SLAB Watchdog Praises Dallas Morning News Series

  SLAB Watchdog Praises Dallas Morning News Series

  Dangers of Lead Contamination from Recycling Not a Thing of the Past, But
                              Continue in Mexico

Business Wire

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- December 19, 2012

Today, Diane Cullo, Director of SLAB Watchdog, commended the Dallas Morning
News for its investigation into lead contamination from recently closed and
legacy smelting sites near Dallas. The multi-part report detailing the effects
of improper lead recycling reinforces the need for a concerted effort to stop
rampant Spent Lead Acid Battery (SLAB) exports to Mexico.

“The series, The Burden of Lead, by Valerie Wigglesworth and the Dallas
Morning News staff is an excellent example of the long lasting effects of lead
contamination. This series, along with USA Today’s recent Ghost Factories
investigation provide compelling proof that the health and environmental
threats from lead contamination continue long after smelters close their
doors,” said Diane Cullo, SLAB Watchdog’s Director. “Unless SLAB exports to
Mexico are stopped, we are subjecting numerous Mexican communities to decades
of lead contamination.”

The Dallas Morning News’ investigation uncovered significant lead
contamination tied to the recently closed Exide lead recycling plant in Frisco
and the long closed RSR facility in West Dallas. One of the most troubling
aspects of the report is that lead contamination like that found in Frisco and
West Dallas isn’t a thing of the past. On the contrary, despite significant
cleanup operations overseen by state and federal authorities, harmful levels
of lead pollution can still be found decades later.

“Compared to Mexican recyclers, the facilities in Dallas investigated by the
Morning News and their cleanup efforts could be considered cutting edge,”
Cullo said. “Study after study has found that Mexican facilities operate under
practically no regulatory control whatsoever. It’s the Wild West of dirty
recycling and its happening just across our border with batteries from our
cars and trucks.”

Last year, an estimated 754 million pounds of SLABs were exported from the
United States to Mexican recyclers operating under virtually no regulatory
control. These facilities are known to have lead air emissions some 20 times
higher than those of current domestic recyclers and are not required to
undertake employee blood lead screening or other worker protections considered
routine in the United States. These recyclers operate on an uneven playing
field, offering lower recycling costs by operating outside of acceptable
environmental and worker safety limits. A recent Commission on Environmental
Cooperation study on this issue noted that none of the Mexican facilities
recycling American SLABs would be approved for a license in the United States.

Large international corporations like Johnson Controls have taken advantage of
the cost differential associated with weaker emission standards by collecting
millions of SLABs every year for sale to cheap, Mexican recyclers. By doing
so, they pollute Mexican communities, skew the waste battery market and reduce
the domestic supply of SLABs for American recyclers.

“Mexican exports put smaller domestic operators at a competitive disadvantage
and when faced with either improving their facilities at a significant cost or
closing, many companies, like Exide, choose to avoid that cost by just
shutting their doors,” Cullo said. “This means the domestic lead recycling
industry and the American workers they employ are being lost to cheap inferior
Mexican recyclers at a time when they could be investing in better pollution

“In order to improve their facilities and comply with federal regulations,
each and every domestic recycler will need to make significant capital
investments,” Cullo said. “But that is practically impossible if their battery
stock is siphoned away by Mexico. Simply put, every SLAB sent to Mexico is a
missed opportunity for domestic secondary lead smelters to fund improvements
to their facilities.”

“SLAB Watchdog would rather see American recyclers improving their facilities
and employing Americans than see SLABs sent to Mexico where they are recycled
in conditions that are far worse than anything found in Dallas,” Cullo added.
“It is time to stop destroying the environment and threatening Mexican
communities by ending the practice of exporting SLABs and supporting clean,
responsible American recycling.”

For more information on the issue of SLAB exports, please feel free to contact
Diane Cullo by phone at 703-244-5891, or via e-mail at

    SLAB Watchdog is committed to the safe and domestic recycling of spent
  lead-acid batteries (SLABs) and operates off of four basic principles: (1)
Recycling of SLABs must occur in the United States by facilities that utilize
    the most advanced technologies that minimize environmental damage; (2)
  Transportation of SLABs must comply with federal regulations regarding the
loading and bracing of SLABs to avoid damage and toxic spills; (3) Collection
facilities should only use battery brokers who sign a memorandum of agreement
committing to use domestic recyclers; (4) Federal, state and local governments
 must establish protocol to ensure that all SLABs generated by their vehicle
                 fleets are recycled at domestic facilities.

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SLAB Watchdog
Diane Cullo, 703-244-5891
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