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Environment & Science

Air regulators seek $40 million in penalties in pollution suit against Exide

An employee wearing a breathing mask works at Exide Technologies.
An employee wearing a breathing mask works at Exide Technologies.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Air quality regulators have filed a lawsuit seeking up to $40 million dollars in civil penalties against a controversial lead battery recycling facility in Vernon.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District alleges Exide Technologies has committed numerous air pollution violations linked to lead and arsenic emissions. In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorneys for AQMD allege repeated violations of the state's Health and Safety Code. The violations carry penalties of between $10,000 and $40,000 apiece for each day the violations occurred.

In a statement, AQMD executive officer Barry Wallerstein said the emissions have exposed more than 100,000 households around the facility to what he called "an unacceptable cancer risk."

The lawsuit comes nearly a week after the AQMD's governing board adopted new regulations limiting arsenic emissions from lead-acid battery plants. The agency is also seeking authority to stop smelting operations at Exide until it revamps its air pollution control systems.

A representative from Exide said the company is reviewing the lawsuit.

Read the lawsuit filed by the AQMD in LA Superior Court: