Today's Federal Register contains the Environmental Protection Agency's new Clean Air Act rules on air pollution from secondary lead smelters. The new rule, amending the 1997 National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for secondary lead smelters, imposes more stringent emission limits for lead compounds, adds work practice standards for mercury emissions, and imposes new requirements for testing, monitoring and record keeping. In promulgating the new rule, EPA "determined that the risks associated with emissions from this source category are unacceptable primarily due to fugitive emissions of lead." The timing of the issuance of this final rule is ironic, as the lead emission standards are ultimately based on the outdated and lax "level of concern" for lead poisoning that the CDC's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning voted yesterday to cut in half. See our post of January 4, 2011.
Moreover, although the rule is generally effective immediately, the compliance date for the revised stack and fugitive lead emission standards at existing sources -- such as existing sources at the Exide facility in Laureldale, PA - won't be effective for another two years: January 6, 2014.
The Exide facility was recently featured in an investigative report by the Center for Public Integrity as one of America's "poisoned places."
Note: In 2000, our firm and our co-counsel at Williams, Cuker and Berezofsky (now, Williams Cedar) successfully concluded federal litigation on behalf of victims of environmental pollution from the Exide/General Battery Facility with a court decree which provided for the remediation of our clients' contaminated properties and future environmental compliance. We brought successful federal claims under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"). A copy of the court opinion on summary judgment cross-motions (LEAD Group, et al. v. Exide, United States District Court, E.D. Pa., 1999) is here. A copy of the consent decree is available upon request.