By Randy Paige

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A bombshell was dropped Thursday about the amount of contamination left behind by the Exide battery-recycling facility during a meeting in downtown Los Angeles.

According to CBS2’s Randy Paige, the two top state officials responsible for protecting the public health from toxic air and soil refused to allow news cameras into that meeting with community leaders.

Three weeks ago, when CBS2 first reported at least 2,000 homes were potentially contaminated, state department of Toxic Substances Control Director Barbara Lee refused to comment.

A few days later, in a community meeting, Lee said only one home had levels that were of immediate concern.

Lee said on July 24: “We have found one property that might require rapid action.”

On Thursday, the DTSC seems to have changed its mind. The department told community leaders the actual number of potentially contaminated homes is even larger than original estimates.

“According to what we were told, we’re looking about 9,000 to 10,000 homes have been affected. We don’t know the number of homes that would need to be cleaned up, but it’s believed to be around 5,000 to 6,000,” said Attorney Gladys Limon, who was inside the closed meeting.

“It’s one of the largest public health disasters in the state if not the nation,” Limon added.

The estimated cost of cleanup, according to CBS2’s sources, is at least $150 million. It remains unclear how soon work will begin nor where those funds will come from.

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