BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA.com) – A battery-recycling facility in Boyle Heights has started to remove lead-contaminated soil from neighboring homes after results released for 85 of the homes tested indicated the existence of lead.
Jim Marxen of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control said all of the 85 homes will need to be cleaned.
According to the agency, though, top priority will go to 19 homes with lead in the soil that exceeds 1,000 parts per million, which is enough lead to classify the soil as “hazardous waste.”
The highest level was more than 3,000 parts per million in one home; however, the allowable level is 80.
“It means we need to get it out of there,” Marxen said. “Particularly if we have homes with a female who is pregnant and young children who could play in the dirt.”
The cleanup is being paid for by Exide Technologies.
“We want to do the right thing to make sure we take care of people’s concerns in the community,” said Thomas Strang, Exide Technologies’ Vice President, Environment Health & Safety.
The lead-acid-battery recycling facility has been operating under various companies without a full permit for more than three decades.
But a recent law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will require the state to either issue a permit or shut down the plant by the end of next year.
Strang says Exide wants the permit and has put $15 million worth of equipment into the plant to lower emissions.
Salvador Chavez’s home was first to be decontaminated and says his yard is now safe for his 17 grandchildren.
But more than half the eligible homeowners have not allowed their homes to be tested for lead, according to KCAL9’s Randy Paige, who says the DTSC hopes reluctant homeowners come around.
In total, 103 homes have been tested but results weren’t released for the remainder.