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.
Exide plans to spend $5m to meet the conditions. The facility should reopen by the end of this year, the company stated.
“I’m confident that the equipment we’re putting in will allow us to achieve the new air quality standards we’re being held to,” said Thomas Strang, Exide’s vice president for environmental health and safety.
Strang joined Exide in May and is overseeing the enhancements. “Completing this plan will enhance the environmental performance of our Vernon facility and allow us to resume our role as part of California’s green economy,” he added.
The facility stopped operations in March this year, after the AQMD denied Exide’s request to operate while implementing the enhancements.
Exide has provoked environmental concerns since March 2013 when a study by the AQMD found arsenic emissions from the plant. It has been summoned more than 30 times, mostly for emitting lead.
Exide will also dismiss its lawsuit challenging regulations the AQMD established in January.