HARRISBURG -- Exide Technologies will pay a $120,000 civil penalty and make significant operational changes at its Berks County lead smelting facility as a result of recurring hazardous waste management violations, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
“While Exide has made a considerable effort in recent years to reduce chronic odor problems and the amount of lead introduced into the environment, it must continue to refine and improve its operational procedures to correct any current violations and prevent any possible future infractions,” said DEP South-central Regional Director Rachel Diamond. “Under the terms of this consent order and agreement, Exide will take actions that will better protect the health and safety of neighboring residents and the environment.”
During inspections in September and November 2009, a DEP employee discovered several violations including accumulations of lead dust and sediment, structural damage to floors inside the facility, and missing inspection reports. In February, a spill of scrubber sludge inside the facility was not reported to the department within the required timeframe.
The facility recycles lead acid batteries and other lead bearing wastes. The lead is recycled through the secondary lead smelter and the plastic cases are recycled for use in making new battery cases. Spent acid is treated on site at Exide’s wastewater treatment plant.
This agreement requires Exide to install and maintain an industrial grade vacuuming system, repair all structural deficiencies, and conduct mandatory employee environmental training, with emphasis on the company’s preparedness, prevention and contingency plan.
Significant improvements have been made by the company during the past five years, including improved air monitoring and stormwater management.
Exide submitted a renewal application to DEP for its Title V air quality operating permit. DEP is accepting public comments on a revised draft permit until July 6.