State regulators have reached a deal with a Vernon battery recycler accused of toxic air emissions that may have threatened the health of more than 100,000 people, company and state officials said Monday.
Exide Technologies has agreed to set aside $7.7 million to pay for new filters to lower its arsenic emissions and new piping for a stormwater system.
The money will also fund previously announced tests for lead and arsenic in the soil and dust in the neighborhood around the plant, as well as voluntary blood tests made available to a quarter of a million people who might have been affected by emissions.
The deal means the state Department of Toxics Substances Control will drop its effort to temporarily close the plant, which officials moved to do in March after reports that elevated arsenic emissions posed an increased cancer risk to 110,000 people.
Because Exide filed for bankruptcy this spring, the plan still must be approved by a judge in that case.
“We continue to strive to make our Vernon plant a premiere recycling facility and consider the health and safety of the community and our workforce a top priority,” Robert M. Caruso, Exide’s chief executive said in a statement. “Exide has taken aggressive steps to install new equipment at the plant and those efforts have paid off in substantially reducing emissions.”
Brian Johnson, the deputy director of the state’s Hazardous Waste Program, called the agreement “a very productive first step. ... This is a facility with a very checkered past, and we are aware of that past and have crafted our inspection and enforcement presence to make ... sure they are operating in compliance, and if they are not, then we will take those appropriate steps.”
He added: “Will it satisfy everyone in the community? I doubt it. But I think it will provide a pretty solid foundation.”
Residents and elected leaders have been calling for the plant's closure since the elevated cancer risk was revealed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District this spring.ALSO: firstname.lastname@example.org