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News Releases from Region 05

U.S. and Indiana Settle Clean Air Act Case with Muncie Smelter to Reduce Lead Emissions

Contact Information: 
Phillippa Cannon (cannon.phillippa@epa.gov)
media only

Chicago (March 16, 2015) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Exide Technologies has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the United States and the State of Indiana alleging Clean Air Act violations at the company's lead smelter in Muncie, Indiana. Exide Technologies has agreed to spend over $3.9 million to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment to reduce harmful air pollution from the facility. The settlement will resolve claims that the facility's failure to comply with national emission standards resulted in the release of excess lead in an area that does not meet the federal health-based air quality standard for lead.

"This settlement will protect Muncie residents from excess lead emissions from the Exide Technologies smelter and prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. "Exposure to lead can impair children's health and their ability to learn."

"Addressing the complicated environmental and legal issues here required a carefully structured settlement agreement with this employer so that the public and nearby residents can be protected into the future. My office and our client the Indiana Department of Environmental Management worked closely with our colleagues at EPA in successfully bringing this case to a conclusion," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office represented IDEM in court as the state government's lawyer.

EPA expects that the actions required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions of lead, particulate matter (soot), total hydrocarbons and dioxin/furans. The settlement also requires the company to pay a civil penalty of $820,000.

Lead and soot, the predominant pollutants emitted from secondary lead smelters, have numerous adverse effects on human health. Lead can affect almost every organ in the body, but is most detrimental to the nervous system. For children, lead exposure can result in permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hearing problems, slowed growth and anemia. In adults, lead affects the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and causes decreased kidney function. Soot contributes to irritation of the airways, coughing and difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

The settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for review at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.