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Exide gets agency’s OK on lead smelter plan

Keywords: Tags  Exide Technologies, South Coast Air Quality Management District, SCAQMD, lead smelting, E.N. DeSart, arsenic emissions, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Exide Technologies Ltd.’s plan to reduce arsenic emissions at its Vernon, Calif.-based lead smelting facility has been approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

The approval comes a year after the agency found that emissions from the plant posed a serious cancer risk for about 100,000 residents living in surrounding communities.

The approval marks significant progress in the battery maker’s ongoing effort to upgrade its plant, Exide said, noting that arsenic emissions are down 95 percent since April 2013.

“Safety and public health protection are top priorities for Exide,” senior director E.N. “Bud” DeSart said in a statement March 20.

Under the Risk Reduction Plan, Exide will invest more than $5 million in the facility, bringing its total environmental and public health investments to more than $20 million since 2010, the Milton, Ga.-based company said.

Exide will need to submit detailed engineering plans, along with required applications for construction of new equipment and modification of existing equipment, SCAQMD said in its approval letter to Exide.

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 ratings 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).

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