MEDIA ROUND-UP – Citizens Group Report: Exide smelter has deposited more than 150 tons of toxic lead dust over Frisco
UPDATE: More than 38,000 Frisco children and young people under the age of 19 live within the area included in the recent lead deposition study.
Last week, local citizens group Frisco Unleaded sent a mailer to Frisco residents informing them that the Exide lead smelter has deposited more than 300,000 pounds of lead airborne emissions/dust – 150 standard tons – over much of Frisco since it opened almost 50 years ago. The mailer referred to a study conducted by Houston-based Spirit Environmental that used an EPA-recommended air dispersion modeling system and the emissions numbers Exide is required to report to the TCEQ to determine the total accumulation of lead over Frisco since 1948. The study covered more than a 114-square-mile area, including much of Frisco and reaching into communities to the north and south, like Plano, and it included a break down of that area into bands showing how much lead was deposited per 100 square meters.
Below are copies of media reports and news release about the group’s mailer/report:
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Frisco group’s flier on lead from Exide plant urges action
By VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH
Published: 19 April 2012 10:43 PM
A flier sent this week to Frisco voters by a citizens group depicts the footprint of lead emitted over decades by Exide Technologies and urges people to push for the smelter’s closure.
Officials with the battery recycling plant questioned the accuracy of the information from the Frisco Unleaded group and said Exide officials needed to study the data further for a specific response. They also noted that soil tests on Frisco properties and blood tests of residents have not found high levels of lead.
“We continue to support the facts from the EPA and the Texas Department of Health regarding the impact of our operations on the Frisco community,” company spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo said.
There is no known safe level of lead, which has been linked to numerous health problems.
The flier’s focus is a map created by an independent consulting firm that calculates the areas of concentration for more than 300,000 pounds of lead emitted since the plant’s opening in 1964. The flier also explains amortization, a legal process that cities can use to shut down undesirable businesses.
Members of Frisco Unleaded have been pushing for amortization and think the city of Frisco has been slow to act.
The Frisco City Council initiated the amortization process in January. The first public hearing is scheduled for June 18.
“We want an informed community who can stand together and speak to the council,” Meghan Green of Frisco Unleaded said. “Let’s move this thing along.”
The group cites the rapid response by the city of Dallas this year after a meatpacking plant was accused of dumping pig blood and
other waste into a creek. A city board voted Wednesday to revoke the plant’s permit.
Frisco officials said in a written response that amortization is a complicated process that takes time. Because Exide and the city disagree on whether the plant is a conforming use, Frisco needs more proof to proceed, the statement said.
“The cases are not comparable, and to suggest otherwise ignores the facts,” the city said.
Jess McAngus of the Houston-based consulting firm Spirit Environmental used modeling and Exide emissions data to create the map showing the cumulative impact of lead. The methodology is explained on Frisco Unleaded’s website.
Jim Schermbeck of the Dallas environmental group Downwinders at Risk said the point of the map is to show that people living closer to the plant have a greater risk of lead exposure. He agreed that it can’t say what happens to the lead after it falls to the ground.
“If it fell in a sandbox where a child plays all the time, then it’s a problem,” he said. “If it falls out in the middle of the street and washes away with the next rain — not a problem.”
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