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.