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SCAQMD Rejects Exide Technologies' Risk Reduction Plan

October 25, 2013

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has rejected a health risk reduction plan developed by Exide Technologies in Vernon. The facility now has one month to develop a more health-protective plan.

SCAQMD required Exide to develop a risk reduction plan earlier this year after the facility’s health risk assessment showed that it posed an unacceptable health risk to more than 250,000 residents in southeast Los Angeles County. The risk is primarily due to arsenic emissions from Exide’s lead-acid battery recycling facility.

“Exide has taken initial steps to reduce its arsenic emissions,” said Barry Wallerstein, SCAQMD’s executive officer. “However these steps along with additional improvements proposed in their plan are still not adequate to protect the health of residents in nearby communities.”

In a letter sent to Exide officials late Thursday, SCAQMD staff identified numerous deficiencies in Exide’s risk reduction plan along with 10 recommendations to remedy them. Among the chief problems and recommendations:

• A door installed on the hopper for the facility’s blast furnace is not adequately controlling arsenic emissions. Arsenic emissions can escape from the door when opened to feed the furnace and at times emissions leak out of the furnace even when the door is closed, SCAQMD officials said. Exide needs to install an air-lock system on the hopper to more effectively control arsenic emissions; and

• The air pollution control systems on Exide’s blast and reverb furnaces rely on the maintenance of negative air pressure in the furnace system to ensure that pollutants don’t escape into the environment prior to passing through the main air pollution control system. Monitoring of Exide’s control systems this fall showed that they did not maintain negative pressure during a significant portion of the time, and thus arsenic and other toxic air pollutants could escape to the atmosphere. Exide needs to improve its existing air pollution control systems and consider installing additional air pollution control systems such as scrubbers, wet electrostatic precipitators, baghouses, and HEPA filters on baghouses.

Exide submitted its risk reduction plan to SCAQMD on Aug. 28. Now that the plan has been rejected, company officials must submit a revised plan to SCAQMD by Nov. 26.

Under SCAQMD’s Rule 1402 and the state’s Toxic Hot Spot program, facilities posing an unacceptable health risk due to toxic air pollution must develop risk reduction plans and implement each element of the plan as quickly as feasible.

In a related action last week, SCAQMD attorneys filed a petition with the SCAQMD Hearing Board – an independent administrative law panel – for an order for abatement that if approved, would require Exide to shutter all lead smelting operations until its air pollution control systems are improved and deemed adequate to control arsenic emissions.

The Hearing Board is expected to conduct hearings on the proposed order, including at least one in the community, starting in December.

Exide has experienced numerous operational problems this year resulting in SCAQMD issuing several notices of violation to the facility.

SCAQMD is now developing proposed changes to its Rule 1420.1 that would impose additional requirements on lead-acid battery recycling plants to reduce their emissions of toxic air contaminants. The new requirements are scheduled for consideration by the SCAQMD Governing Board on December 6, 2013. For detailed information on SCAQMD’s compliance activities at Exide, see

Exide Technologies, located at 2700 S. Indiana Street in Vernon, is one of only two lead-acid battery recycling plants west of the Rockies. In operation since 1922, the plant currently recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily.

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

This page updated: October 25, 2013