The LA County Board of Supervisors just voted in favor of Agenda Item No. 18 (“Oppose Consideration Of Quemetco’s Permit Renewal Until Full Compliance With All Environmental Laws Has Been Met”). The motion was approved on consent, and without discussion, and none of the Supervisors made any statements regarding the motion or about Quemetco. There were also no comments made regarding the motion or Quemetco during the public comment period, which was held for one hour (the Board typically holds a maximum of one hour of public comment before closing that part of the agenda). The vote was 5-0.
Carl Raycroft – 7/21/20 LACBOS Meeting
Quemetco or its predecessors have operated a lead-acid battery recycling plant in Los Angeles County for nearly 60 years. Quemetco responsibly recycles roughly 10 million batteries per year, resulting in the production of 120,000 tons per year of lead. Quemetco is the sole lead-acid battery recycler not just in California but also west of the Rocky Mountains. Our facility plays a critical role for the state to fulfill its policies under the California Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Act, which mandates the recycling of lead-acid batteries in California.
Quemetco has a strong environmental record. For example, in 2008 the company voluntarily installed a $30 million, state-of-the-art emission control system that reduced emissions of lead by at least 95 percent. And Quemetco has publicly lobbied the SCAQMD for lower total lead emission limit levels throughout the air basin, which were adopted by the SCAQMD as part of its recent Rule 1420.1 amendments. These types of investments mean that Quemetco is the cleanest lead-acid battery recycling facility in the world.
Quemetco also voluntarily paid for an investigation overseen by DTSC of the area around its facility to assess the historical impact of the facility’s operations on soils in the area. Several months ago, we provided the final report documenting that investigation to the County Department of Public Health staff. We believe that report confirms that Quemetco has not impacted our neighbors.
Quemetco even paid for the County Department of Public Health to conduct blood testing in the neighborhood at Resource Fairs conducted by DPH. The results of this blood testing, we understand, was very positive – blood lead levels of those tested were low and none of the hundreds of people tested had blood lead levels over action levels.
Finally, Quemetco provides hundreds of strong union jobs to the region, employing a large cross section of traditionally disadvantaged individuals, including those without college education. Quemetco has a strong record of labor peace and remain a central figure in the local economy.
Quemetco welcomes the opportunity to work with the County, but the issues detailed in the Motion were never discussed with Quemetco, and the Motion comes as a surprise. To be clear – Quemetco does not object to any County action directing compliance with environmental laws and encouraging relevant local and state agencies such as DTSC and AQMD to require compliance with these laws as part of any permitting process involving Quemetco. However, the Motion contains numerous misleading, and in a number of instances inaccurate, statements and is inconsistent with prevailing laws. As a result, the Motion creates the misleading impression regarding Quemetco’s environmental compliance. In that regard, we have submitted for the record a letter detailing these misleading and inaccurate statements from our counsel, Manatt, Phelps. I urge your attention to that letter.
It is not in anyone’s interest to publish a Motion or any subsequent correspondence or statement that is incorrect or misleading. Accordingly, we stand ready to engage the County and ask that the Board continue consideration of the Motion for two weeks in order to correct the record before proceeding.