Dangerous Lead Levels Impact Nearly 10,000 Properties

Making contaminated properties safe for residents in Vernon could require the largest cleanup of its kind in California history


The Tragedy

While the Exide Technologies Battery Plant (Exide) shut down in 2014, it left dangerous levels of lead in its wake. Since 1922, Exide conducted its operations on Indiana Street in Vernon, California, and current data shows that Exide contaminated the entire area with toxic lead dust. Even more tragic, it appears Exide’s releases may have contaminated an even larger area than was previously believed, which could impact as many as 10,000 properties in the Vernon neighborhood.

According to a state study released on Friday, April 8, 2016, children living near the former Exide plant have higher lead levels in their blood than those living farther away. Critics of the study contend that lead paint in older homes may also have contributed to the findings. Studies show that around 3.6 percent of the children living within a mile of the plant have elevated lead levels, compared to 2.4 percent for children living a greater distance away. Previous studies have shown that lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, and children exposed to lead often develop learning disabilities and have behavioral problems.


The Largest Cleanup of Its Kind in California History

On February 17, 2016, Governor Brown proposed a $176.6 million cleanup plan which would expedite and expand the testing and clean up of residential properties, schools, daycare centers, parks, and other affected properties situated around the former Exide plant. This cleanup plan is meant to ensure testing of all affected properties within a 1.7 mile radius of the facility. The funding proposal has been approved by both Senate and Assembly.


Average Cost per Property Cleanup

The proposal calls for testing an estimated 8,500 properties, followed by cleaning the soil at properties with the highest levels of lead, and those with the greatest chance for exposure to lead. The average cost of cleaning a residential property is between $40,000 and $50,000. Unfortunately, additional toxic sites from industrial businesses are on the rise.


Identifying the Sources of Industrial Waste

Since the industrial revolution, the rise in the number of industries manufacturing glass, leather, textile, electronics, plastic and metal products have significantly contributed to waste production. For example, lead sources can include battery and other industrial facilities, lead paint, water pipes, lead from fuel combustion, and some hobby items. Exposure can occur by eating or breathing in this metal. Even low levels of lead in the blood can harm human health, especially the health and well-being of children. Property I.D. has been disclosing known, existing and historic hazardous substance contaminated sites in its Environmental Hazard Reports for over 20 years. The Environmental Hazard Report is optional and complimentary upon request with a Property I.D. Natural Hazard Disclosure (NHD) Report. Buyers who don’t receive a Property I.D. Environmental Report may be surprised to learn their properties are located in contaminated areas after the purchase, and hold their agents liable for non-disclosure.



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