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Exide lays off workers at troubled US plant

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 08:46 -- Tildy Bayar
Exide lays off workers at troubled US plant

In the wake of a failure to meet new emissions standards, lead-acid battery firm Exide Technologies has announced temporary layoffs for almost all workers at its battery recycling facility in Vernon, California, US.

The plant, which recycles around 25,000 batteries per day, was shut down in mid-March when the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) denied Exide extra time to comply with new emissions rules. Exide said it could not design, engineer, permit, install and test new equipment needed to meet the rules in time for the 10 April deadline.  

The Los Angeles Superior Court also denied the company’s request to continue operations until it could take the rules’ legality to trial.

"Because our Vernon facility is not currently operating and not able to meet the new operational standard, we had no choice but to make this very difficult decision to temporarily lay off most of our workers," said CEO Robert Caruso in a statement.

The company says it has been installing stricter emissions controls since the shutdown.  “We have an approved plan in place, focused on upgrades that will further reduce emissions, as well as enhance the health and safety of our employees and the community," said Bruce Cole, president of recycling and R&D. The firm plans to install extra scrubbers, which will cost around $11m.  Since 2010 Exide has invested over $20m in environmental upgrades to the facility, it said.

Nevertheless the plant has been in trouble since 2007 over its emissions, with repeated citations for both arsenic and lead.  

In 2013 Exide entered bankruptcy proceedings and is currently restructuring, according to its website.