Battery recycler can no longer operate its Vernon, Calif., plant in light of changes to air quality regulations.
, headquartered in Milton, Ga., has issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notification to employees of its Vernon, Calif., battery recycling facility. The notice will include temporarily laying of the more than 120 employees at the facility.
WARN offers protection to workers and their families by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered layoffs. Notice must be given to affected workers and their representatives, to the state dislocated worker unit and to the appropriate unit of local government.
Excide notified Vernon plant employees following the South Coast Air Quality Management District Hearing Board’s (AQMD's) denial of the company's request for a variance to obtain a limited extension of time to comply with a new “negative pressure” operational standard contained within recently amended air quality regulations (Rule 1420.1) that govern the Vernon location.
In addition, the Los Angeles Superior Court denied Exide’s petition that would have allowed the company to continue operating the Vernon facility until a trial on the legality of Rule 1420.1 could be held.
Either the variance or the petition would have permitted Exide to operate while implementing a Risk Reduction Plan previously approved by AQMD. The Risk Reduction Plan includes $5 million in operational improvements and capital investments to further reduce emissions, enhance compliance with the AQMD’s existing air quality regulatory standards and help to ensure compliance with recently adopted air regulatory standards.
“Because our Vernon facility is not currently operating and not able to meet the new operational standard without the necessary time to purchase, install and test the required equipment, we had no choice but to make this very difficult decision to temporarily lay off most of our workers, some of whom are second- or third-generation Exide employees,” says Robert Caruso, Exide CEO.
As Exide continues to evaluate the company’s alternatives regarding future operations at the Vernon recycling facility, the company says it has established arrangements with third-party recyclers to provide tolling services and continues to negotiate additional purchases to satisfy lead requirements, both of which will allow the company to continue operations in the ordinary course.
“We understand that today’s announcement means parents and hardworking people in the community are now facing the daunting prospect of unemployment, and our thoughts are with them, along with the many suppliers and local business owners who count on Exide for steady income,” adds Caruso.
The Vernon facility, one of only two lead battery recycling plants west of the Rocky Mountains, processed 25,000 car, truck, motorcycle and other lead-acid batteries every day in a closed-loop system. Exide Technologies has operated the Vernon recycling facility since 2000.
“Exide is prepared to invest in the people, processes and technology at our Vernon facility. 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,” says Bruce Cole, president of recycling and research and development of Exide Technologies.
Cole adds, “We continue working cooperatively with the Department of Toxic Substance Control and community leaders, and stand ready to work with AQMD, so that we may undertake these significant initiatives.”