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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    EPA agents raid ammunition company on alleged ‘environmental violations’

    EPA agents raid ammunition company on alleged ‘environmental violations’

    12:11 PM 03/28/2014
    Michael Bastasch

    Environmental Protection Agency and FBI agents raided the ammunition company USA Brass over alleged “environmental violations” early Thursday morning.

    NBC Montana was tipped off by witnesses that federal investigators were there until at least 4 a.m. on Thursday. Federal agents could be seen going through the company’s building and taking items to a truck parked outside. EPA lead criminal investigator Bert Marsden said that the agency was looking into alleged “environmental violations” by USA Brass.

    “We are investigating alleged violations of environmental law,” Marsden said on Thursday. “An investigation takes as long as it takes, and I can’t provide any details as it relates to that.”
    “I can make a statement that there is no immediate threat to the public or the community at this time,” said Marsden.

    It’s unclear exactly what the environmental violations were, but USA Brass has come under fire from federal agencies before for lead exposure. USA Brass cleans and resells used ammunition casings, and NBC Montana reports that local health officials found elevated levels of lead in the blood of 22 current and former employees.

    Last September, the company was fined more than $45,000 by the U.S. Labor Department for 10 serious violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also found that USA Brass has overexposed workers to lead and failed to “provide basic safeguards to reduce lead exposure, including breathing protection and protective clothing,” reports NBC Montana.

    “The toxic effects of occupational exposure to lead have been well known for a long time, but this employer did not have basic safeguards to protect workers against this hazard,” Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Billings, said last September.

    It’s still unclear whether or not EPA and FBI agents were also looking into lead exposure issues. An OSHA inspection in March actually found that the company complied with federal requirements for several months, apparently learning from its mistake last year.
    The company said it would reopen on Friday morning.

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/28/ep...al-violations/


  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    A protester wears a face mask at a demonstration outside Exide Technologies in Vernon last October. The battery recycler has again been found to have emitted more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (Christina House / For The Times)

    By JESSICA GARRISON




    A Vernon battery recycler under fire for contaminating nearby homes with lead and threatening the health of more than 100,000 people with its arsenic emissions is in trouble once again for emitting more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

    lRelated
    LOCAL Air quality district OKs Exide's plan — with misgivings SEE ALL RELATED


    As a result, the agency will order Exide to curtail its operations by 15%.

    On March 22 and 23, an air monitor on the northeast side of the Exide Technologies plant, near the Los Angeles River, picked up lead levels that were high enough to cause the outdoor air concentration to exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter based on a 30-day average — a violation of rules designed to protect public health.

    A notice posted on the air district's website also said that lead levels on several other days had "exceeded 0.15 micrograms by significant amounts."


    The plant was not operating at the time, but the company may have stirred up dust while making repairs, according to the notice.


    Community members — who have been urging regulators to close the plant permanently ever since it was revealed last year that its arsenic emissions posed an increased cancer risk — expressed fury.


    "I don't know what to do. I'm just as frustrated as anybody," said Msgr. John Moretta, pastor at Resurrection Catholic Church in Boyle Heights. His parishioners have been pushing regulators to do more to protect public health. "Why aren't they shut down?"


    In a statement, Exide officials said they were working with the air district to confirm the cause of the high lead reading. "It appears to be a construction-related incident as the plant is undergoing maintenance and upgrade," said plant manager John Hogarth.


    The latest trouble comes less than two weeks after state officials revealed soil tests had found elevated levels of lead in the yards of homes north and south of the plant, as well as at a park near a preschool in Boyle Heights.


    Exide officials now are working with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control on the testing of homes in more neighborhoods. On April 7, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will begin offering free blood tests screening for lead.


    Toxics officials on Friday released a statement saying they were "very concerned" about the latest findings. "We're working with AQMD to identify the source of the emissions, and we expect Exide to fully and immediately comply with the district's directive," they said.


    jessica.garrison@latimes.com

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-e...329-story.html
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 03-12-2015 at 11:03 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    California car battery recycler to close in deal with feds

    By BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press
    Updated 5:54 pm, Thursday, March 12, 2015


    • This Monday, March 10, 2015 photo shows the entrance of the Exide Technologies recycling plant in Vernon, Calif. The battery recycler at the center of a long public fight over its toxic output has agreed to shutter its plant. The closure comes under a deal Wednesday, March 11, 2015 with federal prosecutors and will result in the "immediate and permanent" closure of the recycling plant. Photo: Nick Ut, AP


    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A battery recycling plant that violated hazardous waste laws and spewed toxic emissions for decades on the outskirts of Los Angeles will close and spend $50 million to clean the site and surrounding neighborhoods, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

    Exide Technologies
    admitted felony violations over 20 years but avoided criminal prosecution in the agreement that achieves what residents of surrounding poor communities couldn't get state regulators to do for years despite a long history of violation notices and fines.


    "Our long nightmare is over," Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church said on behalf of community groups. "We have attended dozens and dozens of meetings and hearings always fighting for what we saw as something obvious: Exide was poisoning our community and had to be closed."


    The 15-acre Vernon plant, 5 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, had been idle for a year amid legal and environmental battles, but its owners hoped to reopen.


    Local, state and federal officials have for years cited Exide for emitting excessive lead and arsenic and violating hazardous material laws.


    The agreement allows the Milton, Georgia-based company to emerge from bankruptcy and afford the cleanup rather than being forced to liquidate assets and close operations in more than 80 countries, where it employs about 10,000 people.


    "If the company was no longer viable, we would no longer be able to achieve the immediate result of the facility's closure, and the government would be left holding the bag for the cleanup," Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. "This is the best solution for a very difficult environmental problem."


    The cleanup will be overseen by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which issued an order Thursday to close the facility after finding it cannot meet public health and environmental safeguards.


    The department was harshly criticized for failing to protect the public as dangerously high lead levels were found in the lawns of people living in Maywood and the city's largely Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights.


    "The facility was allowed to operate without a permit for decades, leaking lead, arsenic and other hazardous waste materials into the streets where children play," state Senate leader Kevin De Leon said at a legislative hearing Thursday.

    "Those who let this happen must be held accountable."

    DTSC Director Barbara Lee said later that given her agency's history she understands skepticism about it making sure Exide follows through with the cleanup. But she said the department had shown in the past two years it was serious about cracking down on the plant.

    The company said it signed the agreement with prosecutors after being notified DTSC would reject its hazardous waste facility permit.


    The agreement requires Exide to use $38.6 million it agreed to set aside last fall for closure and cleanup of its site and another $9 million for cleaning up soil around 216 surrounding homes. After those homes are cleaned up, the company must expand cleanup to other areas.


    Cleanup is expected to take at least five years and is one of eight sites the company is responsible for cleaning up nationwide, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns.


    If Exide doesn't complete the cleanup, it could be criminally prosecuted and face fines up to $500,000 a day for each felony violation of illegal disposal, storage and transportation of hazardous waste it admitted over two decades. The company acknowledged it hauled waste in leaking trucks more than 100 miles from Los Angeles to a Bakersfield facility not permitted to receive hazardous material, Johns said.


    He said the decision was tough for prosecutors, but it made more sense for the community.


    "The right thing to do was not worry about sending one or two people to jail for a year or two, but rather prevent another 50- to 100-year sentence for 110,000 people," Johns said.


    The Vernon plant had been in operation since 1922 when Exide took over in 2000.


    It employed 130 people in recycling operations that melted down the lead core in used car batteries and shipped the lead to Exide's battery manufacturing plants. Prosecutors estimated the plant recycled 30,000 to 40,000 batteries a day and grossed $15 million to $38 million a year.


    Community and environmental groups planned a meeting Thursday night to celebrate the closure.


    "We've been the dumping ground for Exide for so long," said Mark Lopez, who grew up in Boyle Heights and is the third-generation of his family to demonstrate against the plant. "For a long time Exide was told they didn't have to follow the rules."


    The rules are now set down in a six-page agreement signed by the company's CEO.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/news/scienc...th-6129587.php

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  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    USA Brass sued by employees for lead exposure


    Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Chronicle
    A federal agent in a hazmat suit collects equipment outside the USA Brass Company in Bozeman on Thursday, March 27. Federal agents from the Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI denied to comment on an ongoing investigation at the offices of USA Brass.
    Whitney Bermes, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014 6:30 pm

    Related Stories



    Eight former and current employees of a Bozeman ammunition company are suing the business, saying they were intentionally exposed to hazardous levels of lead.

    The lawsuit was filed in Gallatin County District Court on Thursday against USA Brass Co., located at 25 Evergreen Drive.

    The business, which cleans and resells used ammunition casings, was the site of a raid earlier this year by agents with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division.


    Defendants also included in the suit are Zach Flanagan, Joe Navarros, Michael Schimpf and Nolan Schimpf, owners and directors of USA Brass.

    Plaintiffs in the case include Gabe Bahr, George Bunyard, Derrick Draper, Kevin Hoehn, Clinton Kees, Angela Sizemore, Derrick Valdiserri and Dustin White.

    The lawsuit includes claims of fraud, deceit, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional tort. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for medical assistance, insurance costs, financial harm and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

    According to the complaint:

    In May of 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration received an anonymous letter alleging hazards at USA Brass, which opened in Bozeman the month before.

    Following an inspection, OSHA identified 12 serious violations of lead safety regulations.

    The violations included:


    • Exposing employees to lead levels higher than the permissible exposure limit for more than eight hours.
    • Not performing air sampling, not implementing a respiratory protection program and not providing respirators to employees.
    • Failing to give employees protective work clothing and equipment and not cleaning areas such as the lunchroom and drinking fountain, which had been contaminated with lead.
    • Not preventing employees from eating or drinking in areas exposed to lead, not posting warning signs and not giving employees medical examinations.
    • Not giving employees information or training on the hazards of lead exposure.


    During a May 2013 meeting with OSHA, USA Brass senior managers Flanagan, Harrell and Nolan Schimpf agreed that the company had done nothing related to potential lead exposures.

    Despite receiving follow-up letters from OSHA, USA Brass took no steps to remedy the violations OSHA had identified for almost four months.

    In September 2013, OSHA publically released its citation and fined USA Brass $45,500.

    USA Brass management admitted to OSHA that it took a few months before it remedied some of the issues outlined in the federal agency’s violations.

    The lawsuit claims that the company’s higher-ups told employees to ignore the hazards and continue working even if they had symptoms consistent with chronic lead exposure.

    The plaintiffs say that they have suffered from nausea, sleeplessness, loose stool, headaches, respiratory problems and cognitive difficulties.

    Bozeman attorneys Bruce Brown and Michale Uda, who are representing the plaintiffs, say that USA Brass intentionally exposed employees to lead with the intention of using them to maximize profits at the expense of the employees’ health and safety.

    USA Brass has not filed a response to the lawsuit. Nolan Schimpf did not return a message from the Chronicle seeking comment.

    In March, federal agents raided the business. The EPA confirmed agents were searching the business after reports of violations of environmental laws.

    No criminal charges have been filed as a result of that investigation.

    USA Brass CEO Zach Flanagan said last September that the company had complied with OSHA’s requirements for several months.


    Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2648. Bermes is on Twitter at @wabermes.

    http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com...cf408ec75.html

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  5. #5
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Ex-battery recycling plant in Texas meets lead safety rules

    Posted: Monday, April 25, 2016 7:18 am | Updated: 10:04 am, Mon Apr 25, 2016.
    Associated Press |

    FRISCO, Texas (AP) — A closed Dallas-area battery recycling plant officially meets U.S. safety standards for lead in a lingering dispute over emissions and contamination.

    The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1Sn0jB7 ) reported Monday that the former Exide Technologies Inc. plant in Frisco complies with air-quality requirements.


    Exide drew scrutiny for exceeding stricter government air-quality emissions while recycling used vehicle batteries. The EPA drew an invisible rectangle around the plant in 2010 after the amount of lead escaping from the smelting operations into the air was deemed unsafe.

    The plant closed in late 2012.


    As of December, air-quality monitors positioned around the plant measured 36 continuous months of compliance. Texas regulators are soon expected to take steps toward removing the site's nonattainment designation.


    Mayor Maher Maso (MAY'-her MAH'-soh) says Frisco is very healthy and environmentally friendly.

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...fbdbbe774.html

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    County Health Officials Conducting Survey of Residents Living Near Former Exide Battery-Recycling Plant

    POSTED 10:10 AM, JUNE 10, 2017, BY SIMONE BOYCE AND LOS ANGELES TIMES

    VIDEO at link.
    xide Facility Health Concern
    Los Angeles County health officials and volunteers went door to door Saturday conducting health surveys of residents who live around a shuttered battery-recycling plant near downtown, which is blamed for decades of lead emissions spread across seven southeast communities.


    County health officials are conducting surveys of residents who live near the former Exide Technologies battery-recycling plant in Vernon. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

    The group’s efforts are focused on residents who live within a 1.7 mile radius of the former Exide Technologies battery plant in Vernon, organizers said. The targeted neighborhoods are in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon.

    Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is most dangerous to young children who can ingest contaminated soil or dust. Even small amounts of the metal cause permanent learning and developmental deficiencies, lower IQs and behavioral problems.


    State regulators are testing thousands of homes to determine whether they must be cleaned of lead-tainted soil. They also have tested some schools and parks in the area.

    http://ktla.com/2017/06/10/county-he...cycling-plant/

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