BREAKING NEWS / MEDIA ROUND-UP – Frisco residents cite EPA, TCEQ inaction, announce “We Will Do It Ourselves!” plan to sue Exide for breaking numerous environmental laws dealing with air, waste, hazardous waste
KERA (Print and Audio)
WE ARE FRISCO
For Immediate Release: For More Information:
7 am July 16th, 2012 Colette McCadden 469-222-7604
Meghan Green 214-886-7190
(Frisco)—– Citing a lengthy list of unresolved federal violations, citizen groups tired of waiting for EPA to enforce the law at the Exide lead smelter in Frisco are gearing up to do it themselves.
Members of Frisco Unleaded and Downwinders at Risk gathered at 9:30 this morning in front of the Frisco Post Office on Stonebrook Parkway to mail “Notice of Intent” letters to Exide corporate representatives, EPA, and state environmental administrators. The action initiates the official 90-day notice required under federal law before the groups can step into the shoes of regulators and file a “Citizens Suit” to prosecute the smelter for violating the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Resource and Conservation Recovery Act.
Although the smelter and the City of Frisco reached a settlement in May that required the 48-year old facility to cease active operations by the end of this year, there have been no fines or clean-up orders issued by either the EPA or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality despite dozens of violations at the smelter dating back to 2009, including dumping lead waste into Stewart Creek, and burying hazardous waste without a permit.
“There are chronic contamination problems at Exide that still pose a hazard to Frisco residents and property. There’s also a long history of law-breaking that the company must be held accountable for,” said Colette McCadden, Secretary of Frisco Unleaded, “It’s just unfortunate we have to file suit ourselves to make it happen.”
In their 17-page Notice Letter the groups state they’re acting now “to ensure that past environmental violations are addressed, and contamination at Exide’s Plant is adequately and fully remediated to eliminate the substantial and imminent threat to public health and the environment resulting from such contamination,” as well as, “to prevent future environmental violations and insure ongoing actions at Exide’s Plant, including any clean up efforts, are conducted in such a way so as to prevent further contamination of the surrounding community.”
There are 182 pages of attachments supporting the allegations made in the Notice Letter, including reports from both the EPA and TCEQ inspectors citing the smelter for numerous state and federal violations involving water quality, air quality, and handling and disposal of hazardous wastes.
“We’re ecstatic that Exide will be closing its smelter,” said Frisco Unleaded Co-Chair Meghan Green. “But as part of the settlement that makes that possible, the City of Frisco is leaving the fate of a Superfund-like site in the middle of our town up to Exide, EPA and TCEQ, – the same government agencies that allowed things to get so bad in the first place. Our lawsuit is the only way Frisco residents will have any guarantee that things will be done right this time.”
In June, the TCEQ missed a deadline to submit a final clean air plan for the smelter before it closes, along with a chance to issue an enforcement order outlining what steps Exide must take to address long-standing violations uncovered by inspectors.
According to McCadden, “Frisco Unleaded and the Downwinders at Risk Education Fund view this lawsuit as an action of last resort after decades of regulatory failure concerning the Exide lead smelter.”
Frisco Unleaded is an affiliate of Downwinders at Risk that was founded only last August. Both groups are seen as instrumental in changing Frisco city policy from one of accommodation with the smelter last fall, to eventually pursuing a course of action to close it.
Federal statutes require that groups that want to file Citizens Suits must give the targeted polluter and the appropriate agencies 90 days for the option of addressing the complaints outlined in a Notice Letter. That means that the groups can’t officially file suit until at least October. Meanwhile, the EPA could act on its own or ignore the Letter.
“Up to now, the EPA has been alarmingly nonchalant about this outlaw smelter and the public health threat it represents,” said Downwinders at Risk Director Jim Schermbeck. “We hope the agency will use our letter as a wake up call and finally enforce the law. We just want them to do their job.”
THE FRISCO EXIDE LEAD SMELTER AND YOU – To get a better idea of where key locations in your life — like where you live, work and you and your children play and go to school — are in relation to the location of the Exide lead smelter – as well as age demographics , check out this map.
150 TONS OF LEAD – This map shows lead dust deposition and accumulation from the Frisco Exide lead smelter since the plant began operations in the early 60s.
To learn more about administrative and enforcement orders against the Frisco Exide lead smelter that have been filed – some more than almost a year ago – by the EPA and the TCEQ, you can type the following words into this site’s Search Box, that is located at the top right of the page: “EPA”, “TCEQ”, “administrative order”, “enforcement order” and “inspection”. To learn about OSHA fines against Exide, type in “OSHA”.
You also can find compilations on these pages:
To learn more about Exide’s negative impact on other communities across the U.S. and around the world – including efforts to get Exide to clean up its sites that have taken from 16 to more than 30 years after closing of the Exide lead smelters, check out this page: