The toxic business of ‘recycling’ China’s electric car batteries 

Posted: November 17, 2018 by oldbrew in Emissions, News, pollution, solar system dynamics, Travel
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Chinese electric car [image credit:]

China already has 250 million electric scooters and around 3 million electric cars, most of which face battery replacements in the next decade or so. But high costs have opened the door to ‘cowboy’ operators.

Researchers estimate it will cost nearly US$3 million to reverse the damage caused by just one illegal plant, says the South China Morning Post.

Authorities in eastern China are turning to the courts to raise the millions of yuan needed to rehabilitate water and land polluted by dumping from an illegal lead-acid battery recycling plant.

State-run Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that the city of Huaian in Jiangsu province would use “public interest litigation” to pay to remove the acid and heavy metals found to around the plant and a nearby river.

The plant was one of a legion around the country involved in the booming business of reprocessing batteries used in electric cars and scooters, forms of transport the central government has been keen to promote in its war on air pollution.

The plant operated between March 2016 and September last year, employing more than 30 people to smelt lead from 15,000 tonnes of used batteries.

Investigators said the backers of the operation – four of whom were arrested – ploughed over 1.3 million yuan (US$187,000) into the scheme and made more than 10 million yuan (US$1.44 million) while it was up and running.

When the plant was first discovered, investigators could only stay at the scene for 20 minutes at a time because the noxious fumes were so strong, the report said.

Lead smelting can produce toxic fumes that damage the nervous system and bones.

Researchers at Nanjing University estimated it would take at least 20 million yuan (US$2.88 million) to fix the environmental damage from the plant.

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    The report quoted industry insiders as saying that at least 60 per cent of used lead-acid batteries in China are processed illegally. – SCMP

    The same thing is going to happen with solar panels, and wind turbines. Where do all the ‘dead’ ones go?

  2. ivan says:

    It won’t bother the greens after all it’s not in their backyard, just like the UK shipping of ‘recyclable rubbish’ to China to go in land fill there.

  3. MrGrimNasty says:

    Do any electric vehicles other than milk floats from the 1970s use lead acid batteries, aren’t these just normal car batteries? I dunno.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Good point Mr Grim.

    Advanced Battery Concepts signs China deal to develop Bipolar Lead Batteries
    October 08, 2018

    High-Tech Lead-Acid Batteries for China’s Electric Scooters
    MAY 29, 2009

  5. tom0mason says:

    But, but but…
    Aren’t China, Indonesia, India etc., on the UN’s Most Favored Polluter list and therefore immune to such criticism?

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    ever the opportunists our Chinese co-Earthlings. Shark fins, elephant tusks, lead pollution, etc. are hallmarks of the Chinese profit at any cost mentality. The Russians are not strangers to this either. The old USSR oil fields are still an environmental disaster of epic proportions. Then there’s the rare earth mines and processing plants.

    But here in the US we’re going to ban plastic soda straws and utensils in some fever dream that somehow they are causing all the plastic pollution in the oceans. The Stupid is strong across the world today.