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Exide closes Pb-A battery recycling plant to avoid prosecution

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 12:41 -- Paul Crompton
Excide closes down its troubled Vernon lead-acid battery recycling.

Exide Technologies is to close its troubled Vernon lead-acid battery recycling plant after entering into an non-prosecution agreement with US officials.

The plant will permanently close following a deal with the Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California that resolves the USAO’s criminal investigation into Exide. 

Under the deal, Exide will avoid prosecution for illegal storage and transportation of hazardous waste, in exchange for shutting down, demolishing and cleaning the 15-acre plant.

In conjunction with closing the facility, Exide has entered into an amendment to the 2014 stipulation after hearing from the Department that it would likely deny Exide's Part B hazardous waste facility permit application.

Exide is requesting the Bankruptcy Court approve the agreements as well as authorise it to close the Vernon Facility at a hearing scheduled for March 27, 2015.

During the hearing Exide will seek confirmation of its Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganisation.

Robert M. Caruso, President and Chief Executive Officer of Exide Technologies, said: “We recognise the impacts that closing the Vernon Facility will have on our approximately 130 employees and their families.  On behalf of the Company, I thank them and the United Steel Workers Union for their commitment and dedication." 

By obtaining plan confirmation and emerging from Chapter 11, Exide expects to meet its closure and cleanup obligations under these agreements, continue to honor its environmental obligations at its other facilities, and preserve nearly 10,000 jobs globally.

The latest development follows a vote by Los Angeles air quality regulators to impose stricter emissions limits on Exide and fellow lead-acid battery recycling firm Quemetco Inc.

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) governing board imposed the stricter emissions limits, which cut the amount of lead emissions allowed from the plants by 50%.

It also cut the allowed concentrations of lead in the air nearby and required the battery facilities to monitor air quality daily instead of every three days.