The decision by state authorities to keep Exide’s battery recycling plant open in Vernon is most disheartening. The money requested of it in exchange for maintaining its operations does not resolve the pollution problem that may be harming the residents right now.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control reached an agreement with Exide a few days ago, allowing the plant to continue operating if the company sets aside 7.7 million dollars to clean up pollution causing problems. The money will cover the cost of offering blood tests for residents of the surrounding areas to detect lead, as well as other environmental tests.
We find this decision outrageous and disgraceful, given the plant’s long history of pollutant emissions. As we have stated in the past, shutting it down is the best solution. The patience of California’s environmental authorities with this plant is inexplicable, and appears to be unlimited.
Exide has been operating in Vernon for more than a decade with “interim status,” given that it is unable to obtain a regular permit. The most recent official monitoring of its pollutants took place less than a month ago. Prior to that, the plant had been closed for some time, since its contamination levels led the local air quality management district to find that the plant posed a high cancer risk for the residents.
It was therefore proposed that, starting in October, Los Angeles County would offer voluntary blood tests to residents. Nonetheless, well into the month, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is not yet clear on how to do the testing. This reflects poorly on the priority bring placed by the county’s health authority on this issue.
It is a mistake to keep a plant with Exide’s history open. The state’s decision to do so is a regrettable choice that harms the interests and health of the residents.