MUNCIE, Ind. — The state Department of Environmental Management has renewed a central Indiana lead plant’s operating permit for another five years after declining to hold a public hearing.

The department says a hearing wasn’t needed because it had answered all of the comments it received during a public comment period.

The Star Press reports that the department’s decision spurred a protest of nearly 30 residents Sunday in front if Exide Technologies’ plant in Muncie, where millions of lead-acid auto, truck, boat and other batteries are recycled annually.

The demonstrators seek an independent sampling of air, soil and ground water at the plant and nearby neighborhoods. They’re also requesting that their blood be tested for elevated levels of lead.

The residents are demanding that Exide invest in better technology to control lead emissions.

Information from: The Star Press,