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Meredith Williams, Acting Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2019
DTSC Intervenes After Exide Fails to Fully Investigate Contamination
DTSC will complete investigation detailing extent of contamination from former battery recycling facility as work continues on cleanup of lead-impacted properties
SACRAMENTO – Citing persistent refusal by Exide Technologies to comply with its legal obligation to investigate the extent of contamination around its former battery recycling facility, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control today rejected Exide’s Draft Residential RCRA Facility Investigation Report (RFI) and Residential Corrective Measures Study. DTSC also assessed penalties for violating administrative orders.
“Exide has a moral and legal responsibility to the children and families who live in the area affected by this contamination,” DTSC Acting Director Meredith Williams said. “Exide is once again trying to get out of performing its duty to investigate.”
In the report, Exide concluded, without support, that it is not responsible for the contamination in the residential areas surrounding its former lead-acid battery recycling facility in Vernon, California. Exide based its Residential Corrective Measures Study on its Draft Residential RFI Report, which DTSC rejected, and again concluded that it is not obligated to clean up any contamination in the residential areas. Exide attempted to rely on several unjustified assumptions to walk away from its legal obligations.
Since Exide’s report fails to protect public health, safety and the environment, DTSC will now complete the investigation and modify the report. Exide will be responsible for DTSC’s investigation and report modification costs.
“Exide has refused to conduct its investigation in accordance with California law, and has used flawed assumptions to justify walking away from this obligation,” said Grant Cope, Acting Deputy Director of DTSC’s Site Mitigation and Restoration Program. “DTSC will complete an investigation that protects the health of the people who live and work near the facility.”
Exide’s legal obligations to investigate the nature and extent of its contamination are set forth in the Corrective Action Consent Order entered into by Exide and DTSC in 2002 and a 2014 Stipulation and Order, as amended in 2015 and 2016.
DTSC found that Exide committed 24 violations of the orders, and DTSC assessed $240,000 in stipulated penalties against Exide for these violations. Because Exide’s failure to investigate the extent of its contamination in the residential areas may also violate requirements of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL), DTSC may seek additional penalties for these statutory violations. Each violation of the HWCL is subject to a maximum penalty of $70,000 per day.
DTSC has also asked the United States Attorney’s Office to end its Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA) with Exide. The NPA provided that if Exide complied with the material obligations of the agreement, including a requirement to comply with DTSC’s orders, the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not prosecute Exide or its agents for any alleged violation of federal criminal laws relating to the illegal storage, disposal, shipment, and transportation of hazardous waste related to its past operations at the Vernon facility. DTSC finds that the deficiencies of the RFI report, despite clear direction from DTSC, constitute a failure to meet the terms of DTSC’s orders and are grounds for revocation of the NPA.
Links to Exide’s Draft RFI Report, DTSC’s response letters, and other background information:
- Exide’s Draft Residential RCRA Facility Investigation Report (includes Report, DTSC Letters, NPA Termination request)
- Residential Corrective Measures Study (includes Report, DTSC Letter, NPA Termination request)
- 2002 Corrective Action Consent Order
- 2014 Stipulation and Order and Amendments
- Exide’s Non-Prosecution Agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office
DTSC is cleaning up lead-contaminated soil at residential properties, schools, parks, day care centers, and child care facilities with the highest levels of lead in soil and the greatest risk of exposure within a 1.7-mile radius surrounding the former Exide Technologies, Inc., battery recycling facility in Vernon. DTSC’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of people in the community, especially the youngest and most vulnerable.
As of July 12, 2019, 1,008 parcels, out of the 8,555 parcels that have allowed DTSC access to conduct soil sampling, have been cleaned.
The Exide Technologies facility at 2700 S. Indiana St. in Vernon recycled lead from used automotive batteries and other sources. The Vernon plant typically recycled about 11 million batteries annually. The facility closed in 2015.
For additional background please visit DTSC’s Exide page at: https://dtsc.ca.gov/exide-home/.
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FOR GENERAL INQUIRIES: Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit www.dtsc.ca.gov. To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.
The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, enforcing hazardous waste law, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.