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L.A. Supervisor Molina proposes 'toxic threat strike team'

L.A. Supervisor Molina proposes 'toxic threat strike team'
The Exide Technologies plant in Vernon, Calif., which has been accused of endangering tens of thousands of people with its lead and arsenic emissions. (Christina House / For the Times)

Decrying the slow response of state agencies to the public health threat posed by a Vernon battery recycler and other polluting facilities, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina on Wednesday called for the creation of a county “toxic threat strike team” that could take action when the state fails to do so.

The plan calls for county public health officials, prosecutors, fire department officials and others to identify the most dangerous facilities in the most pollution-burdened neighborhoods.

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The strike team would then work with other agencies such as the regional air quality board and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to coordinate a response.

Molina is also calling for county lawyers to explore ways in which the county -- instead of the state -- could become the lead enforcement agency in circumstances where officials believe there is a public health threat not being addressed in a timely fashion.

The team would also be directed to identify ways to possibly close Exide Technologies, the Vernon battery recycler that has been accused of endangering tens of thousands of people with its lead and arsenic emissions. The plant has been operating for decades on a temporary permit. 

"For too long the community has suffered due to lack of collaboration and dialogue from the State," Molina said in a statement.

The full Board of Supervisors will consider the idea at its meeting Tuesday.

Twitter: @latimesjessicag

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