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Supervisors to remove lead-based paint near Exide plant

LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors voted April 17 to use $5.2 million from the Aliso Canyon gas leak settlement with Southern California Gas Co. to clean up lead-based paint in homes around the now-shuttered Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said families in Bell, Maywood, Commerce, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Vernon and unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles would be eligible for help.

“Prolonged exposure to toxic levels of lead can compromise a child’s brain development and can adversely affect their young nervous system. In adults, lead can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage,” Solis said.

“We will offer these families the help they deserve in order to live in healthy neighborhoods without fear of harmful lead exposure.”

The battery recycling plant was operated for decades without a valid state permit and permanently shut down in 2015 after continuing to fail to meet environmental standards for emissions of lead and arsenic.

Soil sampling by state environmental regulators found more than 2,000 properties in the surrounding area with elevated lead concentrations.

The blood-lead levels of thousands of children living within 4.4 miles of the site have also been tested and state health officials concluded that the risks of lead exposure were higher for those living less than a mile away from the plant.

But the blood study also found that older housing was also highly correlated with higher blood-lead levels.

The state has funded ongoing soils remediation in the area. The new county program will offer additional aid for families to mitigate lead exposure, though the paint clean-up is unrelated to Exide emissions.

Residents will be encouraged to enroll this summer by community health workers — or promotoras — who will go door to door visiting families and attend local community events.

Solis estimated that it will cost about $25,000 per residence, on average, to get rid of lead-based paint and that between 150 and 300 residential units will benefit. But the number will depend on the extent of the paint hazards found. Some families may be relocated.

Homes where soil remediation has been completed will be prioritized, according to Solis.

“This has been a long journey for the families affected by Exide’s toxic emissions, but they are not on this path alone,” Solis said.

SoCalGas agreed last August to pay out $119.5 million to state, county and city agencies to settle lawsuits arising from the 2015 well blowout at the gas storage facility that spewed an estimated 109,000 metric tons of methane into the air and drove thousands of residents to relocate from their Porter Ranch homes. The settlement was court approved in February.

From City News Service