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LA County OKs $2M To Speed Up Exide Cleanup Effort

LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a $2 million funding request by Supervisor Hilda Solis to help speed the cleanup of contaminated soil around the now-closed Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon.

Exide agreed in March to close its lead-acid battery recycling plant and to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods.

While $26 million of that amount was mean to be set aside for residential cleanup, state officials say as of August, Exide had only paid $9 million into a trust and another $5 million is due to paid in by March 2020.

Saying "the state continues to drag its feet", Solis urged the Department of Toxic Substances Control to move quickly to protect the health of residents.

"The state has not responded with the sense of urgency that I think requires their action," Solis said, adding that only 44 of the 10,000 homes that are contaminated have been cleaned inside and out.

As many as 1,000 homes may be found to have toxicity that qualifies as hazardous waste, and the price tag could run in excess of $400 million, Solis said.

Though gaseous plant emissions are no longer an issue, lead contamination in the soil, which can cause developmental delays and cognitive impairments, remains a concern.

A public health spokesman also cited the increased risk of cancer linked to other chemicals once emitted by the plant.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said federal intervention was not out of the question.

On Wednesday, the state will present its plan.

Department of Toxic Substances Control Director Barbara Lee is expected to participate in a community meeting with residents who live within the contaminated areas.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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