Contaminated Exide plant in Vernon is turned over to state environmental trust

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The closed Exide Technologies lead-acid battery recycling plant in Vernon is partially enclosed in plastic to prevent the release of lead and other contaminants in this undated photo. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The closed Exide Technologies lead-acid battery recycling plant in Vernon is partially enclosed in plastic to prevent the release of lead and other contaminants in this undated photo. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A state environmental trust will take over a battery recycling plant in Southern California to prevent its bankrupt owners from abandoning the heavily contaminated facility.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control says the trust will assume responsibility for the Exide plant in Vernon.

Exide is responsible for creating the trust. Once it’s formed, a court-approved trustee will take ownership and control cleanup efforts.

The Exide plant recycled 11 million lead-acid batteries a year until it was forced to shut down in 2015.

High concentrations of lead dust from the plant settled in the soil around thousands of homes.

On Monday, residents of the zone surrounding the plant marched to downtown Los Angeles to protest a bankruptcy court’s decision to allow the company to abandon the site.

Some brought bags of dirt from lead-polluted yards and threw them over a fence onto the steps of a federal courthouse, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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