Stricter pollution guidelines approved for Southland

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Smog covering downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Smog covering downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

DIAMOND BAR (CNS) – The Southland’s air-quality management agency approved stricter guidelines today on emissions of arsenic and other toxic substances from lead-acid battery recycling plants.

The action by the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s board was targeted at the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon and the Quemetco Inc. facility in Industry, which are the only two lead-acid battery plants on the West Coast, according to the AQMD.

“These measures will further strengthen the toughest air pollution rule in the nation for lead-acid battery plants,” according to William Burke, chairman of the AQMD board.

The new requirements limit arsenic emissions from the plants to 25 pounds per year, with the allowable concentration dropping to 10 pounds per year by 2015. Benzine emissions must be limited to 450 pounds per year. By Feb. 1, the ambient concentration of arsenic cannot exceed 10 nanograms per cubic meter.

In a statement cited by ABC7, Exide officials said they were confident the plant will be able to meet the requirements.

“Exide is making significant investments to upgrade the recycling facility, comply with regulatory limits and protect public health,” according to the company. “The company generally supports the new rule for arsenic that (AQMD) is considering today and believes it will be able to achieve the new limit.”

The Exide plant has had troubles over the past year with state regulators over arsenic emissions leading to protests by residents.

The Exide Technologies plant was shuttered for about two months last year in response to an order from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which cited health risks from arsenic emissions.

The plant reopened in June when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge determined that the operator of the plant had made pollution-control upgrades. Exide officials had argued that the company’s profitability was threatened by the shutdown, saying the supply of lead from the facility was crucial.

Exide is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lead-acid batteries.

The company has said it will spend more than $7 million over the next two years to upgrade the Vernon facility.

 

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