Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Sole lead battery recycler still open in Southern California seeks to expand production 25 pct

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One of Southern California’s two lead battery recyclers has moved to expand its operations as a second company files paperwork with regulators aimed at helping it reopen. 

Only two lead battery recyclers have been operating west of the Mississippi in recent years.

Exide Technologies’ facility, in the city of Vernon, has been shuttered since mid March while it makes upgrades air regulators say are necessary to keeping the surrounding air free of lead and arsenic. The company has filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy code.

TIMELINE: Exide's troubled history with state regulators

Nearby in the City of Industry, Quemetco smelts 600 tons of lead a day at its plant. The company and regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District have confirmed that Quemetco has filed an application to expand its operations by 25%.

Air regulators say Quemetco's application is in progress but could not give a timeline for its consideration. The project does not include construction, but the AQMD is the lead agency responsible for assessing the environmental quality impacts under state law. In an email AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood indicated that "the primary focus of the CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] document will be on air impacts from the proposed increase of production and substitution of petroleum coke for calcined coke used in the furnace." 

Quemetco, too, has been dinged by air regulators – five times in the last 9 years. But the company also has said it can meet tougher new standards for air pollution when the South Coast Air Quality Management District tightened them back in January. 

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