Lead Story Northeast Edition The Press

Residents near Exide fear health risks, survey says

VERNON — A majority of households near the closed Exide battery-recycling plant are concerned that someone in their home might get cancer or lead poisoning from hazardous materials, according to a survey released June 30.

The Los Angeles County Health Agency announced the results of its door-to-door outreach effort, in which more than 1,500 workers visited 16,000 homes in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon.

“The results from the survey are alarming,” county Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “For far too long, people around the Exide plant suffered the consequences of lead and other chemical contaminations. Our residents living near Exide deserve better monitoring and follow-up, and we will continue to work with our Department of Public Health and residents to ensure that the necessary clean-up efforts move quickly for the health of our communities.”

“The survey highlights the need to act with urgency to prevent exposure to continued high levels of lead,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The survey was conducted on June 10.

Survey results included the following:

• Three out of four households surveyed said they were concerned that someone in their home might get cancer or lead poisoning from hazardous materials.

• Nearly half of those surveyed said they are not satisfied with the progress of clean-up activities.

• 65 percent of households reported that their front yards were tested for lead. More than half said they had not received the results yet.

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year signed legislation providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant.