LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Elected officials from several SoCal cities rallied Friday to demand “immediate accountability” for a Vernon battery manufacturer accused of polluting local neighborhoods.
The Exide Technologies recycling plant was shut down in April after state agencies found it spread arsenic and other potentially toxic chemicals into the air and groundwater.
Last week, Exide and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) announced an agreement that called on Exide to set aside $7.7 million in a financial assurance fund to ensure upgrades to equipment — such as Exide’s storm water system — to lower toxic emissions.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports local officials say the proposed deal does not provide compensation for damages incurred and allows Exide to “refute liability for any harms caused by past and present activity.”
“There is nothing in the proposed stipulation requiring Exide to address the damage it has caused, leaving the state and its tax payers with that burden, and leaving the neighbors with nothing but empty promises and the physical and mental harms caused by Exide’s existence,” Bell City Councilmember Violeta Alvarez said.
In a statement, an Exide spokesperson said the agreement would bring the company’s “investment in environmental upgrades at the plant to more than $18 million since 2008.”
“The capital improvements are already well underway and preliminary tests in April show emissions have dropped to below health risk thresholds,” the statement read.
But Teresa Marquez of Boyle Heights said they need the full support of the community at large in order to gain Exide’s cooperation.
“City of Los Angeles, please wake up, residents wake up,” Marquez said. “We say Boyle Heights, we are the city of Los Angeles, and Maywood has had the worst contamination and it’s a small city.
“Please somebody speak up for us.”
Opponents say the proposed agreement will not be finalized until a bankruptcy court grants approval.