T – 21 – 20
Meredith Williams, Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2020
California Sues Former Owners and Operators of Exide’s Vernon Site
Suit Seeks to Hold Parties Accountable for Contamination and Cleanup at the Former Battery Recycling Facility
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) today filed litigation against prior owners and operators of the former Exide Technologies smelter in Vernon. The lawsuit seeks to hold these polluters accountable for reimbursement of costs the State has shouldered to investigate and clean up the site and surrounding area from contamination. It also asks the court to require defendants to investigate and clean up the remaining contamination. Several companies that sent or transported large amounts of hazardous materials to the facility for disposal or treatment are also included as defendants in the Federal lawsuit.
Today’s filing is the latest step in the top legal priority for DTSC, the State’s department charged with protecting California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances. DTSC’s move today demonstrates the State’s long-held determination to make sure polluters pay for the contamination they leave behind.
“These parties share the responsibility for the contamination plaguing the thousands of people and families who live and work in the shadow of this site,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “With this lawsuit, we are seeking justice on behalf of not only the surrounding affected community, but other communities across the state suffering the impacts of intergenerational environmental injustice.”
DTSC names NL Industries Inc., Gould Electronics Inc., and JX Nippon Mining and Metals Corporation as companies responsible for the contamination, along with Exide. These companies or their corporate predecessors owned or operated the Vernon facility for decades before Exide assumed ownership.
DTSC is also suing Kinsbursky Brothers Supply Inc., Trojan Battery LLC, Ramcar Batteries Inc., Clarios LLC, Quemetco Inc., International Metals Ekco Ltd., and Blount Inc., or their corporate predecessors, which arranged for and/or transported the majority of the hazardous substances that were disposed of or treated at the Vernon facility in the last approximately 30 years of the facility’s operation.
DTSC recently appealed the October 2020 bankruptcy court’s ruling that allowed Exide to walk away from its responsibility to safely close the facility and clean up the toxic contamination. DTSC maintains its claim that Exide is responsible in its appeal of the bankruptcy court’s ruling. The lawsuit filed today names additional companies that share the responsibility of this contamination.
DTSC’s Exide page contains more information on the cleanup.
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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.