Southern California environment news and trends

Soil, dust testing underway at Vernon's Exide Technologies

Exide

Mae Ryan/KPCC

State officials suspended operations at the Exide Technologies in Vernon, Calif. in April due to emissions of arsenic that could pose a health risk to 110,000 people in nearby communities. The plant is now reopened.

A Vernon battery recycler began testing dust and soil for toxic pollution this week, part of a new effort to determine the risk airborne contaminants from the plant pose to surrounding areas. 

The Department of Toxic Substances Control issued a closure order to Exide Technologies earlier this year.

TIMELINE: Environmental enforcement milestones at Exide's Vernon plant

DTSC officials said lead and arsenic could have leached through holes in the company’s stormwater pipes. They also pointed to a study from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, concluding that cyanide and other airborne materials posed an elevated cancer risk to residents of Boyle Heights, Maywood, Huntington Park, and other nearby communities. 

An administrative judge has permitted Exide re-open while it appeals the closure order. The company has filed for Chapter 11 status in a Delaware bankruptcy court. 

RELATED: Read frequently-asked questions about Exide

The company is to submit its findings to the Department of Toxic Substances Control in November. 

Exide is one of just two sites west of the Rockies that recycle lead-acid batteries: the company has processed as many as 40-thousand batteries a day. 

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