EXIDE VERNON BREAKING NEWS: SCAQMD permit hearing for Exide, as well as Community Forum/Town Hall meeting to discuss health risks from Exide smelter to be held tomorrow, July 31
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will hold a permit hearing for Exide beginning at 9 a.m. PST, tomorrow, Wed., July 31, at its headquarters in Diamond Bar, CA.
Exide’s Vernon, CA, lead smelter, which was temporarily closed in April by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control because of arsenic emissions, has been allowed to operate with an interim permit for 31 years. Exide filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. On July 3, with conditions, the Los Angeles Superior Court granted the company a preliminary injunction allowing it to temporarily continue operations at the troubled Vernon lead smelter until administrative hearings before Administrative Law Judge Julie Cabos-Owen can be scheduled for continuation and completion.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the plant posed an elevated cancer risk to as many as 110,000 people. In addition, state toxics officials said Exide had continuously released hazardous waste into the soil beneath its plant because of a degraded pipeline.
The facility has over the years been cited for allegedly allowing lead dust to sprinkle down on neighboring rooftops and streets, spilling lead onto the 5 Freeway and contaminating groundwater, according to regulators’ reports. Lead is a potent neurotoxin and is considered unsafe for children even at very low levels.
Still, the plant has operated on “interim status” since the 1980s. It is the only hazardous waste facility in California that does not yet have a permit required by the landmark 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act — intended to ensure the safe treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
Tomorrow evening, Our SALUD (Somos Aliados Latinos Unidos por la Dignidad – Latino Allies United for Dignity – a grassroots health care watchdog coalition representing civic, community and business leaders from the Southern California Latino communities) and City of Bell, CA,Councilmember Nestor Enrique Valencia will hold a Community Forum and Town Hall Meeting for residents of Maywood, Bell, Cudahy and nearby cities to discuss health risks from Exide’s lead smelter in Vernon.
According to the organization’s flier about the event, there will be a medical doctor and a lawyer to explain and answer questions, as well as “a forensic toxicologist presenting information on the toxic effects expected in contaminated neighborhoods within the vicinity of the plant.”