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Latino Daily News

Thursday August 11, 2011

EPA Orders Puerto Rico’s Lead Smelting Facility to Reduce Air & Water Pollution

EPA Orders Puerto Rico’s Lead Smelting Facility to Reduce Air & Water Pollution

Photo: Battery Recycling Co Ordered to Reduce Pollution

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken legal action against the Battery Recycling Company, Inc. requiring the company to take multiple actions to reduce the pollution of air and water from lead at its Arecibo, Puerto Rico facility.

EPA’s ongoing investigation of the facility found potential violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The Battery Recycling Company, a secondary lead smelter, recycles used motor vehicle batteries and produces approximately 60 tons of lead per day.

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of health damage in adults. Lead exposure can have serious, long-term health consequences in adults and children. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems. Lead exposure can also cause health problems in pregnant women and harm fetuses.

To address air pollution, one EPA order, issued August 10, 2011, requires improved monitoring and reporting, preventative actions and operational improvements by the company. EPA’s investigation found that in 2007, the company reconstructed and tested a furnace at its facility without properly notifying EPA. The company built another furnace in 2010 and informed EPA, but failed to notify the agency of its testing of pollution control equipment. In both cases, the company failed to notify EPA of the date the furnaces went into operation. These notifications are important because physical and operational changes potentially increased the amount of pollution the facility generates. The company also failed to provide EPA with required records and reports. In addition, EPA found that the system for detecting leaks of lead emissions was not being properly operated to detect soot. One of the revolving doors on the dust collection system, called a baghouse, was not functioning at full capacity and potentially allowed dust to escape into the air.

EPA’s order requires the company to properly operate its leak detection system immediately to detect and reduce dust from escaping into the air. The company must conduct daily lead monitoring of the lead levels at its baghouse and record and report these levels to EPA. The company has also been ordered to provide EPA the results of 2010 performance tests conducted on the air pollution control devices associated with two of its furnaces, and to update its plans and procedures for addressing pollution from its smelting operations and provide them to EPA.