January 4, 2019: New modelling and analysis by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control led the agency on December 17 to order an expansion of the area being investigated for contamination around the Quemetco lead battery recycling plant in the City of Industry in Los Angeles.
Historical operations may have deposited lead up to 1.6 miles away from the facility, the analysis suggests, and as a result the DTSC has ordered Quemetco to provide a plan to conduct more thorough sampling outside the current quarter mile area being sampled.
“If Quemetco’s operations deposited lead in the area, much of it likely pre-dates 2008, which is when Quemetco, under a requirement from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, installed an advanced air pollution control system that greatly reduced emissions of lead and other toxic compounds,” the DTSC said.
“Earlier sampling results in the industrial and commercial areas immediately outside the Quemetco facility found lead levels in soil exceeding 1,000 parts per million, the level considered hazardous waste.”
The DTSC ordered a clean-up of those areas in November, a draft work plan for which is due to be submitted this month.
But if the new sampling finds contamination that presents an immediate threat to people or the environment, the DTSC will take further action, it said.
The DTSC enforcement order lists the battery storage area, battery wrecker, containment building, furnace area and wastewater treatment plant as solid waste management units ‘that have or may have released hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents into the environment’.
Septic tanks and seepage pits, yard and work areas, thoroughfares, a proposed stormwater storage area and a parking lot are also listed as areas of concern.
The order comes six weeks after the DTSC alleged the company had committed 29 violations of the California Hazardous Waste Control Law, and three months after the company applied to increase operations to 24 hours a day.
Quemetco is owned by Texas-based RSR Corporation (an Ecobat company), and recycles used lead batteries from vehicles and other lead-bearing scrap to reclaim lead and other recyclable materials.
The City of Industry facility has operated since 1959.
Quemetco did not respond to BESB’s request for comment.