Exide Idles California Lead Smelter

Exide Idles California Lead Smelter

State agency says battery recycling facility’s stormwater system is out of compliance.

April 26, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Nonferrous

Exide Technologies, Alpharetta, Ga., has announced plans to suspend operations at its Vernon, Calif., secondary lead smelter in compliance with an order from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The DTSC alleges that Exide’s underground stormwater system is not in compliance with state requirements and alleges the company’s furnace emissions are not meeting DTSC health risk standards.

The DTSC says its decision to order the secondary lead smelter to close follows the agency receiving information that Exide was releasing hazardous waste into the soil. That follows a recent report by the California South Coast Air Quality Management District that Exide has not suitably controlled airborne emissions at its Vernon plant.

Exide says it will comply with the order from the DTSC and is suspending operations in Vernon while evaluating its legal and regulatory remedies. An Exide news release says the company does not know how long the suspension of operations at the Vernon facility will last. The facility, which provides a significant portion of the company’s domestic lead requirements, recycles around 22 million automotive batteries each year.

Exide currently operates two other active secondary lead recycling facilities in the United States that supply lead for the company’s domestic manufacturing facilities. Exide is evaluating its ability to purchase lead on the open market as well as seeking to negotiate agreements with third-party lead recyclers to provide some or all of the internal lead requirements to replace output from the Vernon facility.

Findings submitted to the DTSC reportedly indicate the plant’s underground hazardous waste pipelines are degraded and out of compliance with the state’s hazardous waste requirements, releasing toxic metal-bearing water and posing a risk to the environment.