Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) on Friday asked the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to take “immediate action” on dangerous arsenic emissions from a battery recycling plant in Vernon.
Last month, the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that Exide Technologies, one of the largest battery recyclers in the world, posed a higher cancer risk to more people than any of more than 450 facilities the agency has regulated in Southern California in the last 25 years.
The district told the company to reduce its emissions and hold public meetings to inform people living in Huntington Park, Maywood, Boyle Heights and other areas of the risk. Earlier this week, Los Angeles City Council members, including Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, held a hearing in which they asked the city attorney to look into possible legal action.
Now Perez, who also represents the area, has called on the state toxics agency to investigate the plant and make a “rapid response” to any problems it finds. Perez also wants the agency to make sure the company cleans up any past contamination and complies with state permitting laws.
“The latest revelations about extensive arsenic releases and the threat to public health across the City of Los Angeles are just one more chapter in this terrible story of ongoing pollution and malfeasance,” Perez said in a statement referring to Exide. “More must be done to protect residents who live in the impact area of this out-of-compliance plant and the workers who work within it.”
In response, Debbie Raphael, the director of the toxics agency, released a statement in which she said her office dispatched a team of inspectors to Exide on Thursday and Friday, and “we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that residents in the surrounding community are protected.”
Exide officials released a statement saying they “understand the Speaker’s concern” and will be providing detailed information about the issue.
“Our concern for the public is paramount, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”