$176.6m Funds Approved for Exide Lead Acid Battery Recycling Site in Vernon

California’s State Senate has voted 39-0 to approve SB 93 by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León to expedite the delivery of $176.6 million in cleanup funds to communities contaminated by the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon.

“Exide cleanup must be done thoroughly and quickly,” asserted Senator De León (D-Los Angeles). “Early testing has found high-levels of lead contamination in the soil outside hundreds of homes. Our children are at great risk. There is no time to waste.”

SB 93 stipulates that the cleanup funding will be spent testing and cleaning contaminated sites, job training for cleanup, and pursuing cost recovery from Exide and other responsible parties.

De León said the state will pursue recovery of the cleanup costs from Exide and other culpable parties through the legal process but that could take years “and the impacted communities can’t wait that long”.

According to the Senate, the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control allowed Exide to operate for three decades without a state permit despite repeated violations for contaminating nearby homes and communities with arsenic, lead and other toxins.

In March of 2015, after months of increasing community and political pressure, DTSC and the U.S. Justice Department finally ordered Exide to close.

Jane Williams, executive director, California Communities Against Toxics commented: “One of the largest environmental disasters in the state is on its way to being remedied by the bold actions of our state’s leadership. We look forward to a future when East LA and southeast communities are lead free and our children are safe again!”

Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, added: “Our communities have been struggling to address the Exide issues for a long time, multiple generations for some of us, and SB93 is a significant marker for unity between the legislature and community. We will continue to work together and get the justice we deserve.”

Teresa Marquez, president of the Boyle Heights Stakeholder Association and member of the Exide Advisory Council, Resurrection Neighborhood Watch and Mothers of East LA, said: “I never expected $176 million. It was like winning the lottery for the community. We were thinking those houses are never going to get clean. It wasn’t getting done. Now we can move more rapidly and efficiently to save the children.”

Gladys Limon, staff attorney for Communities for a Better Environment, commented: “After years of being subjected to unconscionable health burdens as a result of the DTSC’s negligence and failure to enforce the law, residents are finally receiving a measure of justice and the long-awaited promise of an expedited, priority remediation.”

In the video below Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) discusses the importance of the environmental crises