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Exide battery recycler to close under agreement with U.S. attorney

Exide battery recycler to close under agreement with U.S. attorney
A protester wearing a face mask is seen during a rally outside Exide Technologies in Vernon last year. (Christina House / For The Times)

Battery recycler Exide Technologies will permanently close its Vernon plant and will not face criminal charges under an agreement reached Wednesday night with the U.S. attorney's office.

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Under the deal, Exide will acknowlege the illegal storage and transportation of hazardous waste,  but will avoid criminal prosecution in exchange for shutting down, demolishing and cleaning its 15-acre battery recycling plant, which is about five miles southeast of Los Angeles, according to a person involved in the negotiations.

The facility has stoked outrage among community groups and elected officials for its long history of violating air pollution and hazardous waste laws.

Exide willl be held to an agreement made last fall with state regulators that requires the company to set aside $38.6 million for closure and cleanup of the facility and place $9 million in a trust fund to clean lead-tainted soil from surrounding homes.

Those payments will be expedited under the agreement with federal officials.

For more on California's air quality and environment, follow me @tonybarboza

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