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EXIDE VERNON MEDIA UPDATE: Experts reveal possible health hazards caused by Exide plant; Residents attending Town Hall meeting urged to rally against Exide lead smelter


Experts Reveal Possible Health Hazards Caused By Vernon Battery Plant

July 31, 2013 11:34 PM

July 31, 2013 11:34 PM BELL ( — Bell residents gathered Wednesday night to hear about the potential health hazards caused by a battery recycling factory in the neighboring city of Vernon permitted in June to re-open.

The state Department of Toxic Substances in April issued an emergency order against the Exide Technologies plant on 2700 South Indiana Street, citing air and ground pollution violations. Officials warned the 110,000 residents living in Boyle Heights, Maywood and Huntington Park they may have been exposed to dangerous levels of the chemicals, which could pose a relatively high cancer risk, and the plant was temporarily shut down.

A Town Hall meeting was called by Bell City Councilman Nestor Valencia, who observed the three-hour meeting alongside concerned residents, including Juan and Margaret Soto, who sat in the front row with their daughters, three and five. The girls were the reason they attended the meeting about what the plant’s ongoing operation means for residents in Vernon, Bell and communities miles away.

As KCAL9′s Dave Bryan reports, the news was troubling.

“I told him we will need to go. We have kids. We need to know what their future has living here in the city,” Margaret Soto said. Her husband, Juan, is concerned executives at Exide are not being forthcoming. “We do not know what they are doing behind their closed doors, and we are vulnerable for any type of fumes, vapors. It’s something that we don’t know. We are not aware of [the effects],” he said.

Dr. James Dahlgren, an internist who specializes in environmental medicine and toxicology, said impact will extend from Vernon to Maywood, Bell, Huntington Park and neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, reaching 110,000 people with possibly devastating results.

“The hazard of non-cancer and cancer risks are exceedingly high for miles and miles around the plant,” Dahlgren said. “A spec of dirt can contain enough [chemicals] to be harmful. That is a problem.”

KCAL9 found workers on the re-opened plant grounds wearing required breathing apparatus.

Asked if the plant should be closed, Dahlgren was resolute. “Absolutely, yes.” he said.

Bell City Councilman Nestor Valencia said he is outraged that air quality officials would restrict fire pit operation on beaches throughout the Southland in July, while allowing the battery plant to re-open. “How is it AQMD (Air Quality Management District) could stop the bonfires in the beach communities and they can’t stop this battery plant?” he demanded. “And as an activist, council member I am appalled that they still have a permit.”

Experts acknowledge they need to do more environmental and medical testing to establish whether the health impacts are being caused by led and arsenic contamination coming specifically from the Exide plant. So far they say the signs definitely point in that direction.

Dahlgren said its continued operation could pose health hazards that in some cases that cannot be reversed. “Once you are poisoned with led or arsenic there is no treatment. No effective treatment. So once damage to the brain occurs, once they develop diabetes, once they develop cancer, I mean we know that those things tend to be difficult to treat. The brain damage is impossible to treat,” he said.

A spokesperson for Exide was not available for comment.



Residents Urged to Rally Against Vernon Battery Recycler

Posted: Aug 01, 2013 1:28 AM CDT Updated: Aug 01, 2013 1:28 AM CDT

Posted by: Pablo Pereira, Meteorologist / Reporter / Web Producer - bio | email

Written and Posted By: Susan Hirasuna, Anchor / Reporter - bio | email

After a shutdown in April,  residents living in communities near the Exide battery recycler in  Vernon gathered at a town hall meeting Wednesday for information about the plant.

The plant was found to have emitted excess amounts of lead and arsenic. The plant was allowed to reopen after Exide showed improvements significantly reduced emissions.

Still, residents wonder if their health has been compromised living so close to the 90 year old plant.    One woman complained of asthma, another said both her grandsons suffer from autism, another with multiple sclerosis.

All were encouraged to have blood lead levels checked and to rally their representatives to first get the Air Quality Management Board to deny a variance that allows Exide to operate as it does now and then push for permanent shutdown.




Controversial Battery Recycling Plant in Vernon Reopens

VERNON, Calif. (KTLA) — A battery recycling plant in Vernon that was ordered to shut down in April was operational again Wednesday, according to a health advocacy organization.

Latino Allies United for Dignity, or SALUD, held a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss health concerns over the plant, which is operated by Exide Technologies.

The plant is located near Bandini Boulevard and Indiana Avenue.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) ordered the facility to close on April 24 over alleged hazardous waste violations.

Emissions from the plant contained excess amounts of lead and arsenic, and polluted the air, water and soil around the facility, according to SALUD.

A judge reversed the DTSC order and allowed the plant to reopen.



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