The SCAQMD Hearing Board Will Receive Public Testimony on the Exide Battery Recycling Plant on December 14th. That Means You.
While I sympathize with any of the good people of Irwindale that may have experienced heartburn, nosebleeds, or inflamed asthma because of a stinky Sriracha factory, I do have to wonder a bit about our priorities.
The last I checked, spicy-smelling air is neither fatal (egregrious asthma attacks aside) nor likely to induce neurological or other developmental problems in children.
Yet, a malodorous spice factory can be shut down within weeks of complaints being filed. This, despite the judge acknowledging that there was a “lack of credible evidence” that any health issues could ascribed to the odor and that the only real crime was that the odor appeared to be “extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses, warranting consideration as a public nuisance.”
Meanwhile, the Exide battery recycling plant, which regularly exceeded lead emissions limits throughout 2011 (and again several times this year) and had higher-than-average arsenic emissions during 2013, remains open for business.
Nevermind that a few hundred thousand people living in Boyle Heights, Maywood, and Huntington Park may have experienced heightened and prolonged exposure to dangerous toxins.
In fact, just this past June, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin was so unmoved by documentation of Exide’s history of emissions violations that he felt obliged to declare that the plant did not pose “an imminent and substantial” threat to the community.
His ruling was in response to Exide’s petition to resume their operations after being forced to temporarily suspend them when the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) was able to show that, beyond exceeding levels of hazardous emissions (including arsenic), Exide’s underground pipelines — which carry up to 310,000 gallons of contaminant-laden waste water a day — were degraded and in violation of California standards.
The corporation, Lavin said in his ruling, would be in danger of “irreparable harm” were hearings to drag on while experts quibbled over the extent to which the public was at genuine risk from plant emissions.