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Exide hit with 8 toxic waste violations at its lead-acid US recycling plant

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 16:07 -- Paul Crompton
Exide hit with 8 toxic waste violations at its lead-acid US recycling plant

American lead-acid battery manufacturer Exide Technologies has received eight violations for failing to protect against toxic waste spills at its battery recycling plant in Vernon.

An inspection by the Californian Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspectors on 20 and 21 January, 2015, and oversight activities on 12 December, 2014 revealed incidents of non-compliance with Exide’s hazardous waste permit at the plant during an inspection of the facility.

Among the most serious violations observed by DTSC inspectors was treatment of contaminated sludge in tanks that Exide is not authorised to operate at its Vernon facility.

Inspectors also found evidence the company had failed to sufficiently protect against spills in an area where it stores materials including battery acid.

Exide recovers lead from lead bearing plant scrap and secondary materials, primarily from lead-acid battery manufacturers. These activities require a hazardous waste facility permit from DTSC.

Exide is one of only two lead-acid battery-recycling plants west of the Rocky Mountains in western America.

The Vernon plant had a capacity of recovering 100,000 to 120,000 tons of lead per year, equivalent to recycling 11 million car batteries, according to the DTSC website.

In a statement Exide said it is working to fix the violations and was set to spend $15 million to upgrade the Vernon plant, total bringing its total investment in environmental, health and safety measures at the Vernon facility to $35 million since 2010.

Tom Strang, vice president, environment health and safety for the Americas at Exide Technologies, as said: “The company is already taking action pursuant to the Notice and will continue to work with the DTSC so that all applicable standards and protocols are met. We intend to operate a premier recycling facility.”

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Curse of Vernon hangs of Exide bankruptcy exit

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:09 -- gerry@bestmag.co.uk
Exide facility in Vernon

Exide Technologies Inc has produced its Chapter 11 bankruptcy exit plan that spells how it plans to be clear of its burden by March 2015. It needs $175m in new investment as well as complicated debt for equity swaps with major lenders but much hinges on the troubled Vernon California plant.

This has already cost it $69m since April and could cost another $98m more over the next few years if it is allowed to re-open. No calculation is given as to what it would cost to get lead from elsewhere.

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Deadline set for Exide’s Vernon smelter permit

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 10:10 -- Editor
Exide facility

California has set a deadline for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to make a decision on whether to issue a final permit to Exide’s beleaguered Vernon lead smelter.

The Vernon plant has been operating on a temporary permit for decades but a new bill signed by California Governor Jerry Brown requires that the DTSC make its decision by December 31, 2015.

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Exide slapped with subpoena in connection with Vernon plant

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 17:02 -- Editor
Exide facility in Vernon

Exide Technologies has been hit with a grand jury subpoena in connection with a criminal investigation involving its Vernon lead-recycling plant in California.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Exide revealed the August 8 subpoena seeks "documents relating to materials transportation and air emissions." Exide itself and "certain unidentified individuals" are targets of the investigation" being conducted by the Justice Department in the Central District of California.

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Exide wants more time to define bankruptcy restructuring

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 10:35 -- Laura Varriale
Exide facility

Exide Technologies has filed for more time to discuss its bankruptcy restructuring plan with its bondholders.

Exide wants to extend through December 10 to negotiate its plans with unsecured creditors without the threat that creditors could file rival plans.

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Exide gains permission to reopen Californian lead smelter under condition

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 10:05 -- Laura Varriale
Exide facility in Vernon

California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Hearing Board has given Exide permission to reopen its Vernon lead smelter after the company installed environmental protections.

The protections include air quality control equipment that monitors arsenic emissions and stops lead-contaminated dust from being released during upgrades. Exide is also obliged to submit monthly status reports to the AQMD Hearing Board.

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Exide in trouble again after exceeding lead levels at Vernon smelter once more

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 15:39 -- Editor

 

Exide has continued to exceed lead emissions limits at its Vernon secondary lead smelter in California despite having already been forced to cut production last month.

A monitor on the north side of the Vernon plant near the Los Angeles River registered emissions in violation of the South Coast Air Quality Management District's (AQMD) requirements for airborne lead on 18 September.

The latest violation came days after AQMD ordered Exide to cut production by 15%, which it did September 14 

The problems with lead come as elected officials and community members across southeast Los Angeles County have been calling for the plant's closure amid an outcry over high emissions of potentially dangerous neurotoxins. Exide has run the plant since 2000.

Exide is investigating the cause of the latest elevated lead emissions September 18 and whether they were the result of excavation work to repair a water pipe break on a neighbouring site not owned by the battery recycler, said Sallie Hofmeister, a company spokeswoman told the LA Times.

"Exide immediately reported the water pipe repair cleanup and the monitor reading to regulators and continues to curtail production by 15% as required by air district rules," she said. "Exide is now in compliance with the regulatory emissions standard."

Air district officials said they do not believe the excavation work on the nearby property caused the elevated emissions. But officials did say repair work on a degraded wastewater pipe on Exide's property could be a factor because the digging might have stirred up lead dust.

Exide ordered to cut production at Vernon plant after breaching lead emissions limits

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:25 -- Editor

Exide has been ordered to reduce output at its secondary lead smelter plant in Vernon, California by 15% after breaching lead emissions limits.

California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) sets a limit of 0.15 mg/m3 of air based on a 30-day average. A high reading at Vernon on 9 September led to Exide hitting an average reading of 0.17 mg/m3.

AQMD has ordered Exide to reduce production by 15% until it can prove its lead emissions have fallen below legal limits. Exide does not use advanced wet electrostatic precipitators to reduce emissions as employed by Quemetco at their California facilty.

An AQMD spokesman told AMM.com: “The bottom line is Exide has to reduce their air toxic emissions, specifically lead and arsenic.” Exide did not offer a comment.

Battery University in Silicon Valley

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

San Jose State University will be offering courses specifically designed for students who want to work with battery technology.

The University is partnering with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CalCharge to offer the professional programme of education at the University’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, which feeds more graduate engineers into the Silicon Valley workforce than any other university.

California has over 40 battery-related companies working on energy storage solutions for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and the renewable energy storage sector.

The courses are offered in response to changing workplace demands in the high tech battery industry.

European Commission takes UK to court over VAT on energy-saving products

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The European Commission is taking the UK to court over its reduced VAT rate on energy-saving products.

The UK charges 5% instead of the standard 20%. Under EU VAT rules, discounts are only allowed for social policy reasons, not environmental reasons.

In a statement, the European Commission said: "Member States themselves unanimously decided on the list of goods and services that could benefit from a reduced VAT rate, and they also insisted that this list be strictly applied, with no room for manoeuvre or interpretation. This is important to prevent competitive distortions in the Single Market and to ensure a fair and level playing field between all Member States."

The Commissions added economic studies showed reduced VAT rates "are often not the best way to achieve policy objectives" and direct subsidies could be more efficient.

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