July 13, 2017 

City News Service 

 

State environmental regulators last week released a plan for cleaning lead-impacted homes near the former Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon, with about 2,500 properties with the most contaminated soil expected to be included in a cleanup effort that will take two years.

 

Barbara Lee, director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, called the cleanup the largest of its kind ever undertaken in California.

 

“We are eager to get to work removing lead from the soil of family homes impacted by the operations of the former Exide facility,” Lee said.

 

The cleanup effort will be conducted at properties within 1.7 miles of the plant, prioritizing:

 

— homes with soil lead concentrations of 400 parts per million or higher;

 

— residential properties with the overall lead concentration is less that 400 parts per million, but where any individual soil sampling was determined to have a concentration of 1,000 ppm or higher;

 

— daycare and child care centers with soil lead concentrations of 80 ppm or higher that have not yet been cleaned; and

 

— all parks and schools in need of cleaning.

 

Additional properties could be cleaned if funding is available, officials said.

 

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

 

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant, with the testing expected to cover about 10,000 properties.

 

DTSC officials said they ultimately plan to hold Exide and any other parties responsible for the contamination financially liable for the testing and cleanup.

 

Los Angeles County public health officials recently led a door-to-door survey effort of thousands of homes around the former Exide plant, finding that a vast majority of residents fear that someone in their home might get cancer or lead poisoning.

 

County Supervisor Hilda Solis called the survey results “alarming,” and said they point to the need for expedited cleanup efforts “for the health of our communities.”

Category: Community



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