Mike Rogge

DTSC announces order to close Exide facility

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, March 20, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This week the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced its decision to force the closure of Exide, a Vernon-based battery recycling plant, that has been plagued with litigation and challenges related to improper handling and disposal of hazardous waste. The closure stems from years of violations and fines at the facility including deficiency notices, inability to meet safety standards, failure to certify the structural integrity of a containment building to house lead, and a history of lack of compliance with environmental and health protection laws. 
Despite a 2002 order to clean up areas affected by Exide operations, DTSC investigations found continued contamination on- and off-site for residential and industrial zones. This prompted DTSC’s decision to close the plant for extensive cleanup. The main concern, however, has been with adequate funding to safely close Exide as the facility has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since June 2013. An agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice has since been announced to ensure adequate funding for closure and cleanup. In turn, Exide will avoid criminal charges of its operation for the closure if it complies with DTSC requirements.
The problems at Exide over the past four or five years spawned a flurry of legislation looking for increased penalties overall for violations, more focus on facilities in proximity to “environmental justice” communities, more laws pertaining to the handling of hazardous materials and waste and requirements for DTSC to follow and to assist DTSC in being more effective. This year, four Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee bills, AB 273, AB 274, AB 275 and AB 276, plus Assembly Member Luis Alejo’s (D-Watsonville) AB 1075 and Senator Kevin de Leon's (D-Los Angeles) SB 654 all have roots that can be traced to the Exide situation.
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