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Residents Call for Action Against Vernon Battery Plant Over Toxic Chemicals

People living near a battery recycling plant east of downtown Los Angeles planned to call for action against the company Friday, in light of concerns about toxic chemicals.

Exide Technologies in Vernon recycles about 25,000 batteries every day.

filephoto Exide Technologies Vernon

File photo: Exide Technologies in Vernon

The company recently signed a deal with the state to cut down on the amount of toxic pollution coming from the facility.

But people who live in surrounding communities called the deal a sellout, and activists and city council members from from Maywood, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell and Huntington Park planned to hold a news conference Friday morning.

Previous tests showed Exide was putting lead and arsenic into the air.

Lead poisoning can lead to learning disabilities in children. Arsenic is known to cause cancer.

The situation was so serious that in April, the state shut the plant down for seven weeks.

But this week, the company reached a settlement with the state.

The deal calls for Exide to set aside nearly $8 million to pay for new filters to clean up its emissions.

In a statement issued by the company Friday in response to the community demands, Exide highlighted the agreement, saying the $7.7 million investment will “reduce air emissions to levels well below regulatory health risk thresholds.”

The company will have spent more than $18 million since 2008 on environmental upgrades once the forthcoming work is complete, Exide stated.

“The capital improvements are already well underway and preliminary tests in April show emissions have dropped to below health risk thresholds,” the brief statement concluded.

Exide’s agreement with the state requires testing of the soil and dust in communities surrounding the plant, and for Exide to pay for up to 250,000 residents to get voluntary blood tests.

Some local elected leaders have said the settlement is a farce, saying there’s nothing in the agreement that requires the company to pay people who’ve suffered health problems.

Nor does the agreement require Exide to compensate people who’ve been harmed by living and breathing near the plant.

They also said since Exide declared bankruptcy in the spring, there’s nothing to stop the company from closing down and leaving town.


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