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Exide ordered to clean up toxins near Calif. plant

Keywords: Tags  Exide Technologies, Department of Toxic Substances Control, DTSC, Vernon smelter, lead smelter, recycling plant, California plant, junk batteries lead

NEW YORK — Troubled battery maker Exide Technologies Ltd. has been ordered to perform an emergency clean-up of dust, soil and sediment near the company’s Vernon, Calif., lead smelting facility.

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) issued the order after laboratory analysis showed elevated levels of lead and other contaminants in soil surrounding the recycling plant that pose "an immediate threat to human health and the environment ... that will require implementing emergency response interim measures."

In a Dec. 17 letter to Exide, DTSC ordered the Milton, Ga.-based company to provide a detailed work plan to perform the emergency response measures by no later than Dec. 31. Additionally, work must be completed by Jan. 31 and a final report issued no later than 15 days after completion of the clean-up, DTSC said.

The agency’s letter doesn’t indicate where the high concentrations of contaminants were found, but notes they were within 1,500 feet of the plant and in two storm drains.

In April, the Vernon plant was shut down 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 ratings agencies. A week after the 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 company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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