Exide makes appointments, working to bring recycling plant back into operation

Exide Technologies’ Vernon automotive lead battery recycling plant in the US state of California has stood idle since March 2014, when the company was denied an extension to comply with a new air quality regulation (District Rule 1420.1 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, or AQMD) that requires the plant’s furnaces to operate under continuous negative pressure from 10 April. Mothballing the facility saw 20 salaries employees and 104 hourly workers receiving temporary layoff notices. The company has now released a statement regarding the board’s approval of new orders and Exide’s plans in relation to the Vernon facility.

“The new orders from AQMD are a significant and positive step forward for our employees, the community, and the recycling industry,” said Thomas Strang, Exide’s vice-president of Environment Health & Safety – Americas. “Exide is committed to meeting the new air quality standards. Completing this plan will enhance the environmental performance of our Vernon facility and allow us to resume our role as part of California’s green economy.”

The Hearing Board’s decision resolves the two District abatement petitions pending against the company and the lawsuit filed by Exide challenging the recently amended Rule 1420.1. Exide has agreed to the terms of two Orders for Abatement that were approved by the District Hearing Board on 10 July 2014. Under those Orders, Exide will not resume operations of its Vernon facility furnaces until it installs additional air quality control equipment to comply with Rule 1420.1 standards.

Exide describes the latest developments as a first step towards resuming full operations in Vernon. Last month, the company also announced the appointment of two executives to lead upgrades at the facility – the aforementioned Thomas Strang and Charles Giesige, who is now vice-president of Recycling Operations – Americas. Strang joined exide on 5 May and is responsible for developing and managing regulatory compliance programs at the Vernon operation and other Exide locations. He also is overseeing the upgrades for the Company’s Vernon recycling facility. Giesige, who joined the company on 16 June, leads strategic oversight and operations of the Exide Americas recycling division, including management of plant purchasing, productivity, quality and logistics functions. In coordination with Strang, he will develop policies and programmes to enhance environmental compliance.

Strang and Giesige bring more than 60 years of combined environmental, safety and health, and plant operations experience to Exide. “Tom and Chuck will drive a strong health and safety vision and culture at Exide,” said Robert M. Caruso, president and CEO of Exide Technologies. “They bring fresh perspectives and high levels of expertise to lead our efforts to upgrade our Vernon facility.”

Prior to joining Exide, Strang served as the vice-president of Environment Health and Safety, Regulatory Affairs, and Manufacturing Excellence for Chemtura Corporation where he developed and instilled the company’s safety culture globally. He held a similar role at Hercules Chemical, serving in a number of engineering, supply chain, and plant manager capacities.

“The Exide Vernon facility is one of only two battery recycling plants west of the Rockies and plays an important role in California’s green economy,” said Strange. “Not only are we are focused on completing the $5 million in improvements that will make this recycling center a premier facility, we’re helping to ensure the health and safety of our employees and local residents. We look forward to resuming our operations and getting our employees back to work as soon as the project is completed and tested.”

Giesige has experience with battery manufacturing going back more than three decades, and has held senior management positions at a number of global companies, most recently as vice-president of Corporate Development for Columbus McKinnon Corporation. He also served as vice-president and general manager for the Dynasty Division and Power Systems Division of C&D Technologies. Prior to that, he was vice-president and general manager of the Specialty Battery/Dynasty Division of Johnson Controls which was later acquired by C&D Technologies.

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