Exide application to re-open formation plant prompts local petition

An application by Exide Technologies to re-open lead battery formation operations at a site in Bristol, Tennessee is meeting public opposition.

On March 21, 280 local residents signed a petition on the campaigning website Change.org to demand a public meeting to discuss “Exide’s Plans to Pollute in Bristol”.

“This permit will allow Exide to produce and release 2,460lb (1,100kg) of sulfuric acid and 1.2 pounds of lead per year into the air/water in Bristol, which will negatively impact local homes, businesses, residents’ health, our environment and wildlife,” the website says.

Part of the opposition to Exide reopening the plant, which closed in 2013, is the public making a connection — which may easily not be valid — with the longstanding scandal about the lead pollution found in and around Exide’s recycling operations in Vernon, California.

On January 23, Exide Technologies filed an application to the Tennessee Division of Air Pollution Control to obtain an air contaminant permit for the plant, a portion of which the firm would like to re-open in September.

Operations would consist of filling, charging, cooling and forming dry unformed batteries to be sold off site, according to the application.

In a statement to BESB Exide said: “Protecting the health, safety and well-being of our employees and the people in the communities in which we operate and live is a clear Exide priority.”

Exide says the plant will provide employment opportunities for the Bristol community, “creating a safe and rewarding environment for employees and residents”.

“Our formations operations in Bristol, expected to begin this September, will create approximately 40 jobs for Bristol-area residents, with the intention to add additional shifts as customer demand increases.

“Upon restart, our state-of-the-art formation line will be used exclusively for the formation of transportation batteries. Any associated air emissions will be controlled in strict compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.”

The company said that new leadership had established “robust environmental, health and safety processes and management that meet or exceed requirements of national, state and/or local laws and regulations”.