Arecibo Battery Recycling Co. to pay EPA fine, invest $3M to reduce pollution
Six months after taking action against the Battery Recycling Co. in Arecibo, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday a legal agreement through which the company will have to pay a $112,500 penalty for alleged violations of the hazardous waste law.
Furthermore, the company will invest more than $3 million in facility upgrades and will undertake three environmental projects to benefit the community, and reduce the spread of lead contamination from its facility in the northern town’s Cambalache sector.
In August 2010, the EPA took legal action against the company after identifying violations of federal regulations governing the proper handling of hazardous materials, as News is my Business reported.
The EPA is working with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board on making improvements at the facility that will benefit the Arecibo community, the agency said.
“Lead is a dangerous toxin that can affect a child’s ability to learn. We need to do everything possible to protect the children of Arecibo from being exposed to lead,” said Judith A. Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator.
The Battery Recycling Company, Inc. is a lead smelter that recycles used motor vehicle batteries and produces approximately 60 tons of lead per day. Throughout 2010 and 2011, the EPA conducted a series of inspections of the facility to determine its compliance with federal laws and regulations.
The facility was found to generate lead-contaminated dust during battery processing, lead smelting and refining operations, and the storage and handling of waste. Workers have also carried lead dust on their clothes and equipment into their cars and homes, putting their families and others at risk.
Under the agreement announced Thursday, Battery Recycling will: invest some $180,000 to purchase a vacuum sweeper vehicle to clean facility roadways of lead dust or other pollutants; invest a minimum of $150,000 to purchase special equipment to compress dust from collection storage bins into pellets for easier handling; and, invest another $150,000 to develop a project to provide assistance to local high schools to improve environmental education involving the safe handling and disposal of old chemicals.