Excessive lead emissions detected at Exide plant in Vernon

A Vernon battery recycler under fire for contaminating nearby homes with lead and threatening the health of more than 100,000 people with its arsenic emissions is in trouble once again for emitting more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

A notice on the air district website said the agency will order Exide to curtail its operations as a result.

On March 22 and 23, an air monitor northeast of the sprawling Exide Technologies plant near the Los Angeles River picked up levels high enough to cause the outdoor air concentration of lead to exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter based on a 30-day average — a violation of air district rules designed to protect public health.

The online notice also said that lead levels on several other days “exceeded .15 micrograms by significant amounts.”

The AQMD said the plant was not smelting batteries at the time; the company had shut down its operations to make repairs at the plant and apparently stirred up dust.

Exide's latest troubles come less than two weeks after state officials revealed that soil tests had found elevated levels of lead in the yards of homes north and south of the plant, as well as at a park near a preschool. Lead is a potent neurotoxin, particularly harmful to small children and pregnant women.

Exide officials could not immediately be reached for comment.


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