EXIDE BANKRUPTCY BREAKING NEWS: For second time in 13 years, Bankruptcy Judge Carey approves another Exide reorganization plan. Will JPMorgan Chase and the other banks that now own it and serial polluter Exide — that admitted decades of criminal conduct in an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department — continue the company’s long record of operations that pollute and contaminate and leave behind inadequate cleanups? Will Exide really appropriately clean up its highly contaminated, closed lead smelter properties and impacted neighborhoods in Frisco and Vernon? Will elected officials and regulatory agencies from the local to the federal level ensure Exide obeys laws and regulations, or look the other way like they did for decades? What about the communities of Muncie, IN and Forest City, MO, where Exide still has lead smelters in the U.S.? How will Exide’s reduced profile and poor community health/welfare/environmental record in the U.S. impact the foreign communities where it has operations?
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Battery maker Exide Technologies Inc. won bankruptcy-court approval on Friday to implement a restructuring that cuts $600 million from its $1 billion in debt and puts the company under the ownership of senior lenders that have financed its stay under Chapter 11 protection.
Judge Kevin Carey in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., signed off on the plan during a hearing. Judge Carey also approved the closure of Exide’s battery recycling plant in Vernon, Calif.
“There’s no debate it’s been a long road to confirmation,” Kenneth Ziman, an attorney for Exide, said in court. “Some have referred to it as a slog.”
The closure of the Vernon facility, which has been idled since last year, comes as part of an agreement struck with federal prosecutors earlier this month that allows Exide to avoid criminal charges tied to environmental contamination at the site.
Exide agreed to invest at least $50 million into the cleanup and demolition of the decades-old plant, which melted down lead from used car batteries to be used in the production of new batteries, as well as cleanup of the surrounding neighborhood.
Exide is also in the process of cleaning up contaminated land, ground water and creeks near a lead recycling plant in Frisco, Texas that shut down in 2012.
The restructuring will keep the rest of the 3,200-employee company’s business intact, including plants and recycling facilities involved in the manufacture of automotive and industrial batteries, according to plan details filed in court.