The state filed suit Oct. 31 against City of Industry-based Quemetco Inc. alleging that its battery recycling facility had 29 violations of state hazardous waste control law, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control said in a press release issued Nov. 2.

According to the DTSC statement, violations identified during multiple agency inspections included a non-functioning leak-detection system in a building holding hazardous lead waste; failure to construct an adequate groundwater monitoring system; and failure to minimize the possibility of releases of hazardous waste into the environment. Other violations include the improper storage of hazardous waste and failure to fix deteriorating structures.

Apparently, according to the DTSC statement, Quemetco has taken action to address some of the issues. But for the outstanding violations, the complaint demands Quemetco pay an unspecified amount of penalties and calls on the Los Angeles County Superior Court to order the company to comply with hazardous waste laws.

“DTSC has attempted to resolve these issues, and although some have been addressed, serious violations remain,” DTSC Director Barbara Lee said in the agency’s statement. “Facilities that process hazardous wastes must handle, store, and treat them in compliance with our laws.”

The California Attorney General’s Office filed the complaint on behalf of DTSC in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Oct. 31.

A query to Quemetco was not immediately returned.

Quemetco, which is owned by Dallas, Texas-based RSR Corp. recycles used lead-based batteries from vehicles and other lead-bearing scrap to reclaim lead and other recyclable materials. The recycling process involves separating lead from other components, smelting the lead and refining it to meet customer specifications. The company was founded in 1947; the current facility in the City of Industry has been in operation since 1959.

Quemetco holds a permit from DTSC to treat and store hazardous waste and the facility is subject to regular compliance inspections. The agency is currently reviewing Quemetco’s request to renew its permit.

UPDATE: Quemetco’s permit renewal request also includes plans to increase the hours of operation at its battery recycling facility in the City of Industry to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to earlier reports. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn on Nov. 1 released a statement reiterating her opposition to a proposed expansion of Quemetco’s battery recycling operations in the City of Industry. Hahn had previously urged DTSC and the South Coast Air Quality Management District against Quemetco’s proposal.

Education, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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