Since identifying elevated emissions levels early last year, the company has invested in plant upgrades and emissions control technologies. A SCAQMD report published last month showed the plant-wide emissions reduction and confirmed Exide has maintained the lowered level of arsenic emissions since April 2013. The tests show the facility meeting SCAQMD’s toxic air contaminant rule limits for existing facilities.
Measures taken by the company thus far that have helped reduce emissions and improve environmental protection include: the enclosure of previously exposed sections of the plant, replacement of the stormwater piping system, installation of high-efficiency filtration systems to reduce emissions, and installation of an isolation door to more effectively capture and control furnace emissions.
In October 2013, Exide agreed to set aside $7.7 million to pay for a new storm-water system, filters and improvements to lower its arsenic emissions, as well as tests for lead and arsenic in the neighborhood surrounding the Vernon plant, in a deal with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. The DTSC had sought to temporarily close the plant over airborne arsenic emissions that may have threatened the health of more than 100,000 people.
Exide says it continues to work with the SCAQMD and other local and state regulators on a long-term operational plan for its Vernon recycling plant. In November 2013, Exide submitted a revised Risk Reduction Plan to the SCAQMD identifying further measures that it will take to reduce emissions and facilitate compliance with the strict air pollution standards.
The Vernon facility is one of only two plants in the US west of the Rockies that recycles car batteries. The plant recycles approximately 25,000 batteries a day and about 8 million a year.