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Exide files suit challenging new air regulation

Feb 13, 2014 | 03:21 PM |

Tags  Exide Technologies, South Coast Air Quality Management District, SCAQMD, Barry Wallerstein, emission requirements, lawsuit, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Exide Technologies Ltd. has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to set aside a recent amendment to a rule that would require the troubled battery maker to reduce emissions of arsenic, benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) amended rule establishes new requirements for owners or operators of large lead-acid battery recycling facilities to reduce emissions and places requirements for ambient air concentration limits for other key toxic air contaminants.

The SCAQMD filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in January seeking up to $40 million in penalties from Exide Technologies for alleged air quality violations involving lead and arsenic emissions at its Vernon, Calif., lead smelting facility (, Jan. 21).

Agency officials expressed confidence that the new regulation will prevail in court. "Our arsenic regulation will help to further protect public health for thousands of residents living downwind of Exide’s battery recycling plant in Vernon," SCAQMD executive officer Barry Wallerstein said in a statement. "We are disappointed that Exide has chosen to continue to fight against reasonable pollution controls. In addition, they continue to be a serial violator of air pollution regulations."

The Vernon smelting facility was shut down last April after tests showed toxic substances were being released into the soil (, April 25). Two months later, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (, June 10), citing rising production costs, compressed margins, intense domestic competition, exposure to the struggling European market and constrained liquidity due to downgrades from credit rating agencies. A week after the bankruptcy filing, Exide was granted a temporary reprieve by the Los Angeles Superior Court that allowed the Vernon plant to reopen (, June 18).

A spokeswoman for the Milton, Ga.-based company did not immediately return a request for comment.

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