January 13, 2022: California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has hit its target of removing the soil from 3,200 properties in the area around the old Exide Technologies recycling facility by the end of 2021, it revealed on January 13.
In total, 10,000 properties, or ‘parcels’, have been identified as requiring clean-up.
The Vernon site, five miles south of downtown Los Angeles, has been shuttered since 2014. It had operated by Exide as a lead battery recycling and smelting facility for almost a century, producing around 110,000 tonnes of lead a year.
The DTSC believes the operations contaminated properties in a roughly 1.7-mile radius, but Exide has always denied that all of the lead was down to its site, providing evidence of other causes such as aviation fuel and house paint.
In 2016 a loan of $176.6 million was obtained from the California state fund to start the clean-up, followed by $74.5 million in 2019 and $322.4 million in 2021 — a total of $573.5 million.
“It was very important to us to reach this milestone and we persevered through many challenges, including the Covid pandemic and unprecedented wildfire seasons, because the people we serve deserve no less,” said DTSC chief deputy director Francesca Negri.
Exide has been accused of walking away from the costs after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy put its American operations out of business in July 2020. It was bought at auction by Atlas Holdings and has been reborn as battery maker Stryten Energy and recycler Element Resources.