From SoCalGas Settlement, LA County to Launch Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Mitigation Program

As part of Los Angeles County’s settlement with SoCalGas over the Aliso Canyon gas leak, LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) received $5.2 million for the removal of lead-based paint in homes surrounding the now-shuttered Exide battery recycling plant in the City of Vernon. Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to take the necessary steps to launch the Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Hazard Mitigation Program.

“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,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who has advocated on behalf of the families harmed by Exide. “For too long, families near the Exide plant have suffered in silence. Through our Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Hazard Mitigation Program, we will offer these families the help they deserve in order to live in healthy neighborhoods without fear of harmful lead exposure.”

Since 2000, Exide operated a battery recycling plant in the City of Vernon without a full state permit. In 2015, Exide permanently shut down after negotiating a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, avoiding federal criminal liability for the illegal storage, disposal, shipment and transportation of hazardous waste. Exide has long faced scrutiny for spewing lead and arsenic into neighborhoods in southeast LA County that are situated in Supervisor Solis’ First District. Since the plant’s closure in 2015, Supervisor Solis has advocated on behalf of families who live near the plant and who were affected by Exide’s prolonged aerial emissions of lead. LA County has worked with the State to ensure that the State expedites the cleanup of affected properties in the communities near Exide. Now, the County will offer residents an opportunity to remove lead-based paint from their homes through this mitigation program.

To begin implementation of the program, DPH will enter into a Memoranda of Understanding with the County’s Community Development Commission (CDC), which has extensive experience in housing rehabilitation. Residences in Bell, Maywood, Commerce, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Vernon, and unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles will be eligible for lead-based paint hazard mitigation services. Eligible residents will be encouraged to enroll this summer, once the program is in operation. DPH will visit families door-to-door, will attend local community events and will send mailers to residences in affected neighborhoods to ensure those who are eligible are aware of this program.

The CDC and DPH will oversee an outreach campaign and will encourage program enrollment by employing “promotoras,” the Spanish term for “community health workers,” and by collaborating with the affected cities and local community-based organizations. It is estimated that between 150 and 300 residential units will be offered mitigation services through the program. Interior and exterior lead-based paint mitigation will cost approximately $25,000 per residence.

The number of homes enrolled in the Exide Area Lead-Based Paint Hazard Mitigation Program will depend on the nature and extent of the lead-based paint hazards found at each dwelling, and the costs incurred to remediate those conditions. In addition, individuals and families may be relocated and may receive case management services while the mitigation activities are underway.

“This has been a long journey for the families affected by Exide’s toxic emissions, but they are not on this path alone. LA County is committed to continue to advocate and support residents who live near the Exide battery recycling plant,” continued Solis.

Through the program, the CDC will test residences for interior and exterior lead paint hazards, providing a full array of lead paint mitigation services. In addition, the County will coordinate with the State’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to prioritize homes where DTSC has already completed soil remediation.