Air quality regulators have approved a plan to reduce arsenic emissions from the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon that was cited and temporarily shut down in the past year due to elevated levels of pollutants leaking from the plant, it was announced Thursday.
Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District signed off Wednesday on a Risk Reduction Plan submitted by the company that includes measures to reduce emissions.
According to Exide, the company will invest $5 million into several upgrades and other steps to be made this year, bringing the amount the company has spent since 2010 on emissions-reduction measures at its Vernon facility to more than $20 million.
The company contends it has reduced emissions by more than 70 percent since 2010.
The Exide plant has been under close scrutiny by state and local regulators over the past year. The plant was forced to temporarily shut down last year due to arsenic emissions, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District sued the company in January alleging numerous air quality violations.
Residents living near Exide learned this month from Department of Toxic Substances Control officials that higher-than-normal levels of lead were found in soil samples taken from the yards of 39 homes around the plant.
Residents who gathered at a hearing hosted Wednesday night by DTSC voiced their frustration at continued news of possible contamination from the battery recycling facility and criticized the regulators' ability to address the problems.
The battery recycling plant has been operating under a temporary DTSC permit for the past 32 years and is the only facility left in the state that has not been fully permitted, DTSC officials said last year.
The firm at 2700 S. Indiana St. is one of only two lead-acid battery recycling plants west of the Rockies. In operation since 1922, the plant recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily.
—City News Service