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Battery Recycler to Test Soil for Dangerous Metals; Neighbors Skeptical

Regulators say arsenic leaking from the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon endangered as many as 110,000 people living nearby. (Photo/Chris Richards)

Regulators say arsenic leaking from the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon endangered as many as 110,000 people living nearby. Results of tests for lead and other toxins should be available in December. (Photo/Chris Richard)

 

By Chris Richard

State-ordered testing of soil for lead and other toxins around a battery recycling plant in Vernon, just east of downtown Los Angeles, is underway. The plant, Exide Technologies, already has been accused of endangering the lives of 110,000 people who live nearby.

But neighborhood residents and community leaders say they’re skeptical that the test results will force Exide’s factory to close before it can do any more harm.

“I think it’s great that they’re testing, and I’d say that it’s long overdue,” said Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Catholic Church in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood about a mile from the plant. He says that members of his congregation have long been worried about emissions from the plant.

“But this is all pretty superficial. It doesn’t get to the real question, which is, at what point do you wait for them to go into more violations before you shut them down?”

California regulation ensures the safe treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste, and requires that factories such as battery recyclers satisfy rigorous environmental reviews before obtaining a permit. But Exide has never met that standard.

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