The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is recommending to the EPA that an area of Saline County surrounding the Exide Technologies battery plant be designated as non-attainment for the EPA lead air quality standard.
In 2008, the EPA set more stringent values for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead, bringing the old standard of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter to a standard of 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter. Air monitoring data are evaluated over a three-month period.
To verify that Kansas facilities are complying with this current standard, KDHE is required to perform air monitoring near facilities emitting more than one-half ton of lead per year. Exide Technologies, located at 413 E. Berg Road, is the only facility in Kansas that meets the air monitoring threshold. KDHE and Exide have cooperatively worked to determine the geographical extent around the facility where the lead standard is not being met. Air pollution dispersion modeling was conducted to augment results of the sampling data.
KDHE installed an air-monitoring site approximately 300 feet north of Exide's property line. The monitoring site began operation in February 2010. The quarterly monitoring data from the Salina monitors have violated the 2008 standard on two occasions.
"These violations started in motion a process where KDHE recommends a certain geographic area be designated as not meeting the national air quality standard for lead. This area is referred to as being in non-attainment for the lead air quality standard," said John Mitchell, KDHE director of environment. "KDHE and Exide will continue working together to make improvements that reduce lead emissions for this area."
Exide Technologies manufactures lead-acid batteries for automotive, marine, and lawn and garden uses. The facility melts lead as part of the battery manufacturing process. The proposed designated area includes the Exide facility, and is bounded on the north by Shilling Road, on the west by 9th Street, on the south by Water Well Road, and ¼ mile west of Ohio Street on the east side of the plant. The entire area is less than a square mile.
EPA indicates that they will finalize air quality designations for the lead standard designations later this year.
Once an area is designated non-attainment, KDHE and EPA will ensure that Exide takes action to continue to reduce lead emissions. New air pollution controls and upgrades to existing equipment are in progress. These actions, and any additional steps necessary to reduce airborne lead levels to the point where the new standard can be met, will be formalized in a revision to the Kansas State Implementation Plan. The SIP will be submitted to EPA for their approval.
KDHE's Bureau of Air has been in contact with the City of Salina and Saline County to inform them of the process, and they will assist with local follow-up. KDHE will host Air Quality Public Meetings June 28 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Saline County Sheriff's Office Meeting Room at 251 North 10th Street in Salina. For more information about the public meetings, contact KDHE communications director, Miranda Myrick, at 785-296-5795, or Tom Gross with the Bureau of Air at 785-296-1692.