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EXIDE VERNON UPDATE: Community members, elected officials hold rally calling for statewide action to address chronic polluters like Exide

CBS LOS ANGELES

Officials Rally At Vernon Recycling Plant Urging Action To Address Chronic Polluters

April 14, 2014 10:58 AM
VERNON (CBSLA.com) — Community members and elected officials from across Los Angeles and Riverside held a rally Monday calling for statewide action to address chronic polluters.

The group gathered at 10 a.m. in front of Exide Technologies’ battery recycling plant, 2700 Indiana St., to demand statewide action to address the toxic levels of lead and arsenic affecting surrounding South East LA neighborhoods.

The failures of current clean-up plans and the impacts of the facility were discussed to highlight the larger need for statewide reform of the state’s environmental regulatory agencies.

A number of residents’ lawns tested positive for elevated lead levels as well.

“I think we are poisoned by Exide, and nobody seems to be willing to do anything about it,” resident Mario Saenz said.

Protestors stood outside the facility with signs and loudspeakers, shouting chants such as “Exide, hear us, we don’t want you near us”.

The facility, which has been at its current location since 1922, had lead levels detected in the air at reportedly unacceptable levels by the Air Quality Management District.

In March, investigators from the State Department of Toxic Substance Control found the initial, elevated lead levels in residents’ soil.

“Let me say this, we were here last weekend, (and) we were told that they’re doing the same thing they did back then, back in the late 70s, taking blood tests from the workers,” one protestor, former Exide employee Anthony Price, said. “Why are they testing people’s blood every week in this plant if it’s a safe plant?”

On April 8, Exide released a company statement in an attempt to put minds at ease.

“Exide continues to work with AQMD, and other local state regulators on a long term operational plan for its Vernon recycling plant… The Company has committed to invest more than $5 million over the next two years to upgrade the Vernon facility.”

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NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL

“Healthy ‘Hoods, Not Toxic Hotspots” in L.A

Ramya Sivasubramanian’s Blog

Posted April 14, 2014

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Calling for justice and no more toxic pollution, people from across L.A. rallied outside the Exide Technologies facility in Vernon, CA today to support “healthy ‘hoods, not toxic hotspots” in the communities where they live, work, learn, and play.

Like too many other communities of color, the communities surrounding the Exide lead-acid battery recycling facility face multiple and cumulative burdens from nearby industries. There is the Exide facility, about which my colleagues and I have blogged before, with its recent notices of violation for excess lead emissions. Also nearby, as was readily apparent during the rally, is the Baker Commodities rendering plant. So are freeways, railroads, metal recycling facilities, plating shops, a used oil recycling facility, a slaughterhouse, and a paint manufacturer and recycler. All right along the L.A. River.

But it could be different. In the face of these burdens, residents and community and environmental groups are working to instead create clean, green, and healthy neighborhoods.

This work includes both targeted efforts to clean up existing toxic facilities, as well as efforts to proactively develop plans and policies that promote this greener community vision. For example, the City of Los Angeles is working with stakeholders to develop a Clean Up Green Up policy to address these concerns. The three pilot areas for this policy – Boyle Heights (which is near Exide), Pacoima, and Wilmington – are some of the most overburdened in the state.

As voiced in the rally today, people want healthy communities. By finding creative ways of reducing and preventing pollution prevention while promoting sustainable business practices and community revitalization, this work (including policies like Clean Up Green Up) can create and serve as a model for healthy neighorhoods in all of Los Angeles and beyond.

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