Environment & Science

Los Angeles County edges closer to suing Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon

State officials shut down operations at Exide Technologies in Vernon, Calif. in April due to toxic air pollution that may pose health risks to members of the surrounding community. The plant is now open again.
State officials shut down operations at Exide Technologies in Vernon, Calif. in April due to toxic air pollution that may pose health risks to members of the surrounding community. The plant is now open again.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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More troubles could be on the way for the Exide lead battery recycling plant in Vernon. In a closed session this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to give its top lawyer the authority to file a lawsuit against Exide Technologies. 

It's not clear yet what charges, if any, the county will file against the battery recycling plant. It's been shut down since March. The plant has been the target of toxics and air quality regulators for more than a year because of arsenic and lead pollution violations.

Officials have estimated arsenic emissions from the plant have increased cancer risk for more than 100,000 people in the area. 

Earlier this month, state regulators reached a settlement with Exide that forces the company to set aside almost 50 million dollars for cleanup cost. Some of that will be used to remove lead from the soil of homes around the plant. 

Supervisor Gloria Molina called that agreement inadequate and last week asked county counsel to review legal options. Counsel came back with a report this week, leading the board to proceed with litigation.