"All I can tell you is that there are some things in the report that don't make any sense," he said. "Certainly it's very difficult to understand what they based the decision on, other than their desire that we relocate."
"I don't understand what's driving these decisions," he said.
Johnson Controls has insisted all along that its plant's emission controls would have prevented any significant contamination. It says emissions were about one-seventh of the Chinese national standard and that employees were frequently tested to ensure their blood lead levels remained with safe limits.
Molinaroli contends the Shanghai authorities have failed to identify the real cause of the lead poisoning cases and that the risks of further contamination remain.
With the Shanghai plant closed, Johnson Controls is importing batteries from factories elsewhere to meet customer demand, he said.
Work might turn to battery assembly and charging if the company fails to convince local authorities to let it resume lead processing.
Molinaroli said the factory may eventually relocate but for now the company is focused on getting a new plant up and running far to the west, in Chongqing.
"From our standpoint it's a battle that we've lost. We want people to understand that ... we are the gold standard for producing lead acid batteries," he said.
Researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.
Elaine Kurtenbach on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ekurtenbachsh
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