Exide cleanup: Lead-contaminated soil at 1,500 Vernon-area homes cleaned since plant shutdown

It's been nearly five years since the Exide battery plant in Vernon was shut down, due to it releasing lead and other harmful chemicals into the air -- causing lead exposure to communities nearby.

"They were only able to actually identify 8,500 homes for cleanup," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis about the cleanup efforts. "And they've only gotten to 1,500."

The Department of Toxic Substance Control found that the impacted areas are within a 1.7-mile radius from the plant, a situation that seriously impacted a part of Supervisor Solis' district.

"This past year, however, the governor...the new governor, Gavin Newsom, actually provided 75-million (dollars) to help jumpstart again the cleanup and hire up new contractors to expedite the cleanup because it was taking long," Solis said

Another reason it's taking so long to clean the soil is that many of the folks that live in the homes are renters, Solis stressed.

"It will help us if we can identify the landlords to come forward and agree to have the cleanup or testing occur," Solis said. "Because there's a lot of hesitancy. Especially in a close-knit immigrant community."

The supervisor encourages landlords and anyone of the public to attend a public hearing on January 31st -- that The California State Assembly is hosting at Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights on the status of the Exide residential cleanup.

"We have to continue the cleanup here," Solis said. "In my opinion, I've always this very clear, this is our Flint, Michigan here."

As of January 10, 2020, only 1,570 homes have had their soil cleaned up, according to DTSC's website.
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