Clean-up of Exide lead smelter site, Exide's Negative Impact on Other Communities, Lastest News, Muncie

EXIDE MUNCIE BREAKING NEWS: Exide to clean up pollution in Muncie, still faces unresolved notice of violation

The company recently settled a notice of violation brought by the state that allegedly involved brown-colored, lead-contaminated water along a storage area and rail spur and dead vegetation near a ditch leading to a storm water outfall.

The Muncie factory still faces a second, unresolved notice of violation concerning an alleged oil leak from equipment; cracks and gaps in a containment building that could cause a fire or explosion; improper storage of hot kettle dross; failure to inspect the perimeter of a bin; and improper storage of reverbatory furnace slag beyond the boundary of the bin.

 

THE (MUNCIE, INDIANA) STAR PRESS

Exide to clean up pollution in Muncie

Company also facing environmental issues at California smelter

Jan. 2, 2014 8:06 PM   |
1020 SP NEWS Exide Factory

A worker at the Exide Technologies factory bands lead ingots together in this Oct. 20, 2010, file photo. Exide ships out 150 truckloads of recycled lead ingots a week. (Kelly Day/The Star Press) / The Star Press
Written by
Seth Slabaugh

MUNCIE — Exide Technologies, one of the world’s largest producers and recyclers of lead-acid batteries, has agreed to clean up pollution at its recycling factory in Muncie.

Exide, which employs about 150 in Muncie, on June 10, 2013, filed a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

The company recently settled a notice of violation brought by the state that allegedly involved brown-colored, lead-contaminated water along a storage area and rail spur and dead vegetation near a ditch leading to a storm water outfall.

While there was no fine, Exide signed an agreed order with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that calls for fines if the company doesn’t meet IDEM’s cleanup conditions and deadlines.

Those conditions include taking soil and ground water samples to determine the nature and extent of any contamination and to clean up any pollution.

Exide has said the Muncie facility annually recycles 4.6 million spent batteries from cars, boats, trucks, forklifts and emergency backup systems. The recycled materials, including the lead and plastic, are used to make new batteries.

The Muncie factory still faces a second, unresolved notice of violation concerning an alleged oil leak from equipment; cracks and gaps in a containment building that could cause a fire or explosion; improper storage of hot kettle dross; failure to inspect the perimeter of a bin; and improper storage of reverbatory furnace slag beyond the boundary of the bin.

Exide recently issued this statement when asked by The Star Press about the future of the company and its Muncie plant:

“Since Exide filed for Chapter 11 on June 10, the company has made headway in improving efficiencies, making changes necessary to return to profitability, and positioning its business for a stronger future. Exide also is serving existing customers while looking for new business opportunities.

“In addition, the company continues to comply with applicable environmental and regulatory laws and requirements — remaining committed to the safety of its employees and the communities where it operates facilities. The Chapter 11 filing does not change that commitment. While Exide does not comment on forward-looking activities, the company’s focus on continuous improvement and maintaining operational compliance at Muncie — and across all of its facilities — is ongoing.”

The loss of Walmart as a customer is one of many factors that led to Exide’s financial problems.

The company’s profitability also has been impacted by “unprecedented increases” in production costs, driven primarily by the market price of scrap lead in North America.

Exide has five “secondary lead” smelters, only two of which — Forest City, Mo., and Muncie — are operating.

Those facilities reclaim lead by recycling expired or spent batteries. The smelter furnaces melt lead from the spent batteries to extract the lead so it can be re-used to make new batteries.

Exide closed its smelter in Frisco, Texas, in 2012 after a lengthy battle by the city and residents for a cleaner environment.

Exide also was hurt financially by the forced suspension of operations at its Vernon, Calif., smelter to comply with an order from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which alleges the plant’s underground storm water system is not in compliance with state requirements and the plant’s furnace emissions are not meeting health risk standards

The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 15 that residents, elected officials and activists from southeast L.A. pleaded with an air district hearing board to shut down the Vernon plant that is accused of endangering hundreds of thousands of people because of unsafe arsenic and lead emissions.

The company also has former smelters in Baton Rouge and Reading, Pa.

In 2009, Exide agreed to pay a $97,500 civil penalty for polluting the air in Muncie with lead. The company blamed the pollution on storm damage that eventually resulted in a fire.

The company said the violation was caused by an isolated event — a fire of short duration in a rotary furnace dryer on June 27, 2008.

In 2007, Exide agreed to pay a penalty of $115,400 for air violations at the Muncie facility on the heels of a $62,500 penalty for hazardous waste violations.

Contact Seth Slabaugh at (765) 213-5834.

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