On June 26, 2015, Health Hazardous Materials Division (HHMD) Hazardous Materials Specialists III Jim McCarron and Jeovani Stoute received the prestigious 2015 U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Award for their excellence and efforts in the investigation and prosecution of Exide Technologies Inc. (Exide). The award was presented during a ceremony at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in Los Angeles. Key speakers and attendees included Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Wang, Sheriff Jim McDonnell and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Exide, a battery recycler in the city of Vernon, had been under intense regulatory and public scrutiny due to lead contamination in the surrounding community. On Aug. 10, 2013, the California Highway Patrol spotted a truck leaking liquid from the trailer at the CHP Castaic truck weight scale. Hazardous Materials Squad 150 responded, as did HHMD’s Emergency Response team, whose members called Investigators McCarron and Stoute.
McCarron and Stoute determined that the truck was transporting plastic chips loaded with lead and acid from Exide. Alongside the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, they submitted the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for filing.
On March 12, Exide entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement and agreed to commit $430 million over 10 years to remediate the lead contamination at and surrounding the plant and to fund the costs of community and employee blood monitoring. In addition, Exide agreed to permanently close its Vernon plant to avoid criminal charges under the Non-Prosecution Agreement.
As a result of the successful investigation and outcome, McCarron and Stoute, along with other agency investigators received the U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Award.