- Los Angeles County approved $2 million in funding to clean up contaminated soil around Exide Technologies’ battery recycling facility in Southern California. The company permanently shut down earlier this year after generating hazardous wastes impacting the surrounding area.
- Exide agreed to pay $50 million to clean up the site and community. The total cleanup cost could be more than $400 million, according to LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
- Exide acknowledged production of lead, cadmium, arsenic, and volatile organic compounds. The company also admitted to engaging in illegal methods of storage, disposal, shipment, and transportation of these wastes.
About 5,000 to 10,000 homes may require cleanup "inside and out" following toxic exposure from Exide’s operations, according to Solis. The Exide chemicals have raised the cancer risk for thousands of citizens in the community, some whom have already been affected.
"When you look at me, you see a 12-year-old boy, but I’m actually 25 years old," said Anthony Gutierrez, a nearby resident whose growth was severely stunted over many years by chemicals from the plant. "My doctors tell me I shouldn’t be alive today."
Safe battery recycling continues to be a priority and focus of the waste management industry, especially as many types of batteries are subject to mandatory deposit systems in several states and voluntary deposit systems in most other areas. Businesses are joining the effort to prevent hazardous waste with programs such as Call2Recycle, the first stewardship initiative for collecting and recycling rechargeable batteries, which is funded by battery and product manufacturers. Many local councils and authorities have partnered with battery manufacturers to develop similar recycling plans.