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Exide to idle Pa. lead recycling plant by March

Keywords: Tags  Exide Technologies, Reading plant, lead recycling, lead battery recycling, Paul Hirt, Frisco plant, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Exide Technologies will idle its lead recycling plant in Reading, Pa., by March 31 in a move that market participants say will put further downward pressure on junk battery prices.

The decision to idle the plant was based on such factors as "dramatic swings in the lead market and the high capital investment needed, due to regulatory requirements, to remain operational in Reading," Exide Americas president Paul Hirt said in a statement.

"By idling this facility, we can defer spending the capital while still having the majority of our internal lead demands met through our other three recycling centers in Vernon, Calif.; Canon Hollow, Mo.; and Muncie, Ind.," he added.

"Exide would have had to expend significant capital in order to have Reading become compliant under the new regulatory regulations," including the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations, an Exide spokeswoman told AMM, declining to specify the projected cost.

The Reading plant has an annual lead recycling capacity of 72,000 tons, she added.

The removal of this capacity from the market "should put downward pressure on core battery prices," one battery buyer said.

A broker agreed that the market "will see junk battery pricing continue to decline" with the Reading idling, having already fallen significantly over the past month as supply increases (, Nov. 7).

Employees at the Reading facility were informed of the idling Thursday, with 150 workers set to be affected, Milton, Ga.-based Exide said.

Exide will maintain the Reading facilities, as well as the permits and approvals necessary for all recycling activities. The company has adopted a similar approach at its Baton Rouge, La., lead recycling plant, which was idled in 2009 (, March 25, 2009).

Exide will also continue to operate its plastic recycling business from the Reading site, employing about 25.

The company recently began curtailing output at its lead recycling facility in Frisco, Texas, which will be shut by Nov. 30 (, Nov. 7). Exide announced in June that it would close the plant after striking a $45-million deal with the City of Frisco to sell the property.

Exide previously said that the Reading facility would be one of the plants that would absorb work that would have gone to Frisco (, June 5).

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