AZR says it’s not responsible for lead issues
An aerial view of the American Zinc Recycling facility. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
The American Zinc Recycling facility in Palmerton does not contribute to the borough’s air quality concerns, the company said in a statement released Tuesday.
“We note that the Department of Health has reported that the blood lead testing has identified results that are consistent with blood lead levels in the broader Carbon County region and do not reveal any meaningful difference in the Palmerton community,” the statement read.
“We nonetheless urge everyone who was tested to follow through on the recommendations recently issued by the Department of Health.
“We are confident that our plant does not contribute to air quality concerns in Palmerton, and we look forward to continuing our work with the appropriate governmental authorities to allay any concerns in the community.”
American Zinc Recycling said the health and safety of its employees and Palmerton residents is “paramount,” adding that the results of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s February’s blood screenings alone aren’t indications of sources for possible lead exposure. The statement comes in the wake of 12 Palmerton residents testing positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood.
The department tested a total of 267 people at the screening.
American Zinc Recycling operates at the former east plant of the Palmerton Zinc Company.
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said an air quality monitor was first installed near the plant in 2012 after the company reported it was releasing more than a half ton per year of lead emissions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which operated the air quality monitor, said the lead levels exceeded the national standard.
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s report, released last July, declared a public health hazard within 3 miles of American Zinc Recycling.
In a news release detailing the results, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said there is no safe level for lead in blood. Even at low levels, the naturally occurring element can affect one’s IQ levels, attention span and educational success.