Exide withdraws plan to re-open lead battery formation plant

A controversial application by Exide Technologies to re-open a lead battery formation operations site in Bristol, Tennessee has been withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced that a public meeting to discuss the application, scheduled for May 4, had been cancelled.

On March 21, 280 local residents had signed a petition on the campaigning website Change.org to demand talks on Exide’s plans.

The petition claimed that if the operations restarted, acid and lead would be released into the air and water around Bristol.

“Based on further analysis driven primarily by the need to increase speed to market, Exide Technologies has decided to expand its formation capabilities at existing operating facilities instead of its idled site in Bristol,” wrote Joseph A. Bolea, director of EHS Americas Operations, Exide, in a letter to the Division of Air Pollution Control dated April 26.

“While the idled facility in Bristol remains a potential option for future expansion projects, the company would like to withdraw its permit application seeking approval to resume formation operations at the facility.”

Had the application been successful, the plant would have opened in September to operate filling, charging, cooling and forming dry, unformed batteries to be sold off site.

When applying, Exide said the plant would have provided 40 local jobs and that the health, safety and well-being of employees and the communities would have been protected.

“Any associated air emissions will be controlled in strict compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations”, the application promised.

It is likely that opposition to the plans was partly sparked by the longstanding scandal that surrounded the Exide lead battery recycling plant in Vernon, California.

Implementation plans for final closure of the Vernon plant were submitted in February.