Pointing to numerous violations of lead pollution standards at the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant even while it's closed, regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District are asking their independent review board to halt maintenance work at the Vernon facility.
Exide has been shuttered since March 14th, while the company seeks to upgrade pollution control equipment. But the AQMD has issued seven notices of violations just this week, indicating that an ambient monitoring station recorded lead concentration in the air at levels higher than permitted for a 30-day rolling average. Air officials called one of the violations "knowing, willful and intentional."
“Exide’s facility is so contaminated with lead that they are causing violations of our ambient lead standard at an on-site monitor even when the plant is not operating,” said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD’s executive officer, in a written release. “For this reason, Exide needs to treat its plant like a hazardous waste site during maintenance and renovation work.”
Maintenance work began at Exide March 22. Since that time, air regulators have issued more than a dozen and a half notices that the company's operations were sending illegal amounts of lead into the air around the plant.
Exide has sought to delay installation of pollution control devices, which are aimed at reducing the amount of arsenic released during its smelting operations. The deadline for that upgrade was April 10. Earlier this week, two such attempts by Exide to delay that deadline failed - one in court, one at the AQMD's hearing board.
Calls and emails to representatives for Exide were not returned.