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SCAQMD Hearing Board to Conduct Public Hearing in Maywood on Proposed Orders For Abatement with Exide Technologies

July 3, 2014

The Hearing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will conduct a public hearing on July 9 on two proposed orders for abatement between the SCAQMD and Exide Technologies.

“If approved by the Hearing Board, these orders will put in place additional measures to protect public health during improvements at the facility as well as operations, if it ever reopens,” said Barry Wallerstein, SCAQMD’s executive officer.

Faced with an inability to comply with new SCAQMD rule requirements, Exide suspended operations in March and has not operated since then.

The Hearing Board will conduct a public hearing on the proposed orders for abatement at 6 p.m. on July 9 at the Maywood Academy High School at 6125 Pine Ave. in Maywood.

The proposed orders will be available later today at www.aqmd.gov.  A summary of the orders will be presented at the hearing and members of the public will have the opportunity to testify.

If the orders are approved by the Hearing Board, Exide will be prohibited from restarting its furnaces until it completes planned upgrades to its air pollution control system. Among additional requirements, Exide will:

  • Implement a plan to control dust that may contain lead and other toxic air contaminants during construction and maintenance activities;

  • Carry out all conditions and mitigation measures outlined in its approved Risk Reduction Plan to reduce emissions from activities and operations at its facility; and

  • Submit monthly status reports to the Hearing Board on progress of planned upgrades.

An order for abatement is an enforcement tool used by the SCAQMD. It allows the SCAQMD to request its Hearing Board to require a company to stop any activities or operations or comply with specified conditions in order to remain in compliance with SCAQMD rules.  

If the Hearing Board issues the proposed orders, Exide will drop its lawsuit against SCAQMD in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the agency’s Rule 1420.1. The regulation requires strict controls for lead and other toxic air contaminants from large battery recycling facilities. Exide also will not pursue its motion to dismiss SCAQMD’s orders for abatement before the Hearing Board.

Still pending is a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in which SCAQMD is seeking up to $40 million in civil penalties from Exide for numerous air pollution violations.

Exide Technologies, located at 2700 S. Indiana St. in Vernon, is one of only two lead-acid battery recycling plants west of the Rockies. Opened in 1922, the plant recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily when operating.

For several years, the plant has been the source of increasing scrutiny by SCAQMD, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and local elected officials, as well as substantial controversy among many community members.  Since June 2012, SCAQMD has issued 32 notices of violation to Exide, mostly for emitting excessive amounts of lead, a highly toxic air contaminant.

In March 2013, SCAQMD approved a health risk assessment for Exide showing that the facility was causing an unacceptable health risk, primarily due to arsenic emissions, to residents in portions of Vernon, Maywood, Huntington Park, Commerce, Boyle Heights, Bell, Montebello, South Gate, Cudahy and portions of unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles.

The Hearing Board is an independent five-person administrative hearing panel created by statute. It exercises independent quasi-judicial authority and functions much like a court of law.

SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

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