Columbus battery plant fined $41,000 by state for lead emissions

Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has proposed a $41,000 fine for the Exide Technologies battery plant at 3639 Joy Road for violating emissions standards, according to a release Monday morning.

Exide was fined for “failure to maintain proper seals” on an oxide silo, which resulted in lead emissions that exceeded federal regulations.

The order cites the facility violating National Ambient Air Quality Standards for November and December 2016 and January 2017.

“They make lead-acid batteries and the permit to do that requires them to do certain things, and to minimize emissions,” said Karen Hays, chief of the air protection branch of the EPD. “We monitor near Exide for lead, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. There was an incident in November where there were some emissions. It was corrected quickly, but the emissions resulted in an exceeding of federal standards.”

Exide agreed to construct an enclosure around the four oxide silos by May 31, 2018. Until then, they will conduct monthly inspections to ensure proper seals on the equipment.

“They have agreed to enclose these silos so that should there ever be a malfunction in the future, the emissions won’t be emitted to the atmosphere,” Hays said.

The $41,000 settlement will be paid to the state government as “a deterrent,” and the money deposited into a hazardous waste fund.

A public comment period is available until July 12 on the proposed enforcement action. Comments can be submitted to Karen.Hays@dnr.ga.gov.

Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE