Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Exide proposes testing more houses, deeper soil in second round of testing for lead

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The battery recycler Exide Technologies has given California toxics regulators its proposal for a new round of lead testing for soil in the properties around its Vernon plant.

The first round of soil tests ordered by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, released last week, found elevated levels of lead requiring additional investigation at homes and schools north and south of the facility. Regulators gave Exide until March 21 to submit a plan for the second round of testing.

RELATED: Free blood tests for Exide neighbors are still more than 2 weeks off

In a second round of environmental work, Exide proposes to take samples three times deeper down into the soil, gauging lead in the ground up to 18 inches deep. The company also proposes adding testing for 59 additional homes north of the Vernon plant, and 38 properties on the south side. During sampling, bilingual communicators would speak to property owners to find out who lives in the homes.  

Lead exposure is particularly risky for young children, who can develop anemia, slowed growth and learning disabilities as a result. Pregnant women and the elderly are also particularly vulnerable.

Some community members have demanded blood testing for lead exposure. However, independent public health researchers are doubtful those tests will fill in the long-term picture for lead risk in the neighborhoods around the plant.

Exide’s work plan also includes notifying residents about the testing results by letter. It offers no timeline for completing the testing – and toxics regulators will weigh in on it anyway before the work begins.

A spokesman for the Department of Toxic Substances Control says the department is reviewing Exide’s submissions and will check to make sure they’re adequate before the project moves forward.

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