VERNON (CBSLA.com) — Community members and elected officials from across Los Angeles and Riverside held a rally Monday calling for statewide action to address chronic polluters.
The group gathered at 10 a.m. in front of Exide Technologies’ battery recycling plant, 2700 Indiana St., to demand statewide action to address the toxic levels of lead and arsenic affecting surrounding South East LA neighborhoods.
The failures of current clean-up plans and the impacts of the facility were discussed to highlight the larger need for statewide reform of the state’s environmental regulatory agencies.
A number of residents’ lawns tested positive for elevated lead levels as well.
“I think we are poisoned by Exide, and nobody seems to be willing to do anything about it,” resident Mario Saenz said.
Protestors stood outside the facility with signs and loudspeakers, shouting chants such as “Exide, hear us, we don’t want you near us”.
The facility, which has been at its current location since 1922, had lead levels detected in the air at reportedly unacceptable levels by the Air Quality Management District.
In March, investigators from the State Department of Toxic Substance Control found the initial, elevated lead levels in residents’ soil.
“Let me say this, we were here last weekend, (and) we were told that they’re doing the same thing they did back then, back in the late 70s, taking blood tests from the workers,” one protestor, former Exide employee Anthony Price, said. “Why are they testing people’s blood every week in this plant if it’s a safe plant?”
On April 8, Exide released a company statement in an attempt to put minds at ease.
“Exide continues to work with AQMD, and other local state regulators on a long term operational plan for its Vernon recycling plant… The Company has committed to invest more than $5 million over the next two years to upgrade the Vernon facility.”