LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Salvador Andrade always believed in the value of a hard day’s work.
But Andrade also worried that his years of labor at the Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon took a massive toll on his health. He died this week of cancer.
In October, following his diagnosis, Andrade told CBS2’s Randy Paige of his concerns.
“Do you think that your work there has affected your health?” Paige asked.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “But right now I can’t do nothing.”
For most of his 25 years at Exide, Andrade operated a piece of machinery called the hammer, which was capable of recycling hundreds of batteries a minute.
The plant was shuttered last year in a deal with the U.S. attorney’s office to avoid criminal charges for illegally storing and transporting hazardous waste.
Andrade’s work environment smelled of “smoke, acids and plastics,” he told Paige.
His battle with terminal cancer came as thousands of residents in the area voiced growing concerns of lead contamination at their homes.
Last month Gov. Jerry Brown proposed spending $176.6 million to expedite and expand the testing and cleanup of homes, schools and parks near the former plant.
At the request of Andrade’s family, his interview with Paige was not aired until his death. Andrade’s attorney was concerned Andrade could lose his health insurance if the details of his health problems became public while he was still alive.
Per his request, Andrade was buried in his work clothes.
“He always said to be humble,” Andrade’s daughter Margie Flores said.
Andrade’s family is suing Exide, along with other former employees, alleging unsafe work conditions.