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State Under Pressure To Clean Up Toxic Chemicals From Closed LA Battery Recycling Plant

BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA) — People who live in Boyle Heights are demanding the state clean up waste and toxic chemicals from the defunct Exide Battery Recycling Plant that is affecting homes and parkways.

One place officials say they won't clean up is the grass area between parked cars and the sidewalk.

CBS2 did its own test in October 2015 where hazardous waste levels of lead were found in the soil along the sidewalk.

"When you park your car and walk into your home you're going to be touching the same contaminated soil and bringing it back in your home," LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

Nearly all of the 10,000 homes are within a 1.5-mile radius of the plant, but only 200 or so have been cleaned up.

Before closing, the Exide Technologies plant recycled car batteries for 70 years, spewing toxic lead, benzene and arsenic into the air, slowly poisoning these properties. Now, a recently released report confirms only 25 percent of homes will be cleaned, CBS News reported.

"It's not to say that we're not going to address the remaining properties," Mohsen Nazemi, deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, told CBS News. He's in charge of working with the $176 million cleanup budget.

Ninety-eight percent of tested yards came back with lead levels above the state's strict health standards of 80 parts per million. These levels of lead are known to cause brain damage and stunt growth in children.

"They're giving, from what I understand, homeowners options, to have the inside of their homes cleaned, but it's not an adequate cleanup, they're basically from what they described is, they're gonna vacuum and they're gonna wipe things down," a homeowner said.

County health officials say a cleaning is not good enough. They want to have a decontamination. More importantly they want to have the homes tested to make sure they are safe to return to live in.

A protest was expected at the Department of Toxic Substances Control's headquarters Monday night.

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