CONNECT THE DOTS / MEDIA ROUND-UP: Thanks to TCEQ, Frisco’s Lead Legacy continues; Exide gets 14 more months to dump another ton of lead over Frisco
The TCEQ’s most recent proposed Agreed Order extends the deadline Exide has to bring basic controls and maintenance procedures up to minimum standards for lead emissions by 14 months, from this November to January 2014. If the Agreed Order is approved by TCEQ commissioners on May 30, the agency will essentially have given Exide permission to put off fixing basic lead emission/storage control and plant maintenance processes for another year, which could mean Exide will be able to emit at least another ton of lead over Frisco. Lead dust particles do not go away, and Frisco already has a significant Lead Legacy of at least 150 tons that the Exide lead smelter has deposited over most of the community since it opened almost 50 years ago.
You can read and download the TCEQ’s latest proposed SIP and Agreed Order for Exide/Frisco here. (It is officially referred to as the Collin County Attainment Demonstration SIP Revision and Agreed Order)
It is important that the TCEQ’s latest action be put in perspective and the question asked:
Whose Mission is the agency charged to meet?
The one it was charted under by the People of Texas (see below) or Exide’s?
TCEQ Mission Statement
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality strives to protect our state’s human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. Our goal is clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste.
Keep that in mind, while you continue reading – Media Round-Up also below
TCEQ/Exide vs. Senate Bill 1475
In March of 2011, Texas Senator Florence Shapiro proposed Senate Bill 1475 to help ensure that the health and welfare of the people and community of Frisco were front and center in the State’s plans to force Exide to bring its Frisco lead smelter into minimum compliance with federal laws for air quality.
The TCEQ, working closely with Exide, ignored the Senator’s efforts, and you can see the significant gaps between the two below:
EPA Rejects TCEQ/Exide Plan Because It Lacked Enforceable Limitations;
TCEQ: We Won’t Submit Corrected/Revised Plans Made with Exide for Public Review/Comment
In August 2011, the EPA rejected the State Implementation Plan (SIP) the TCEQ had crafted with Exide to bring the Frisco lead smelter into minimum compliance with air quality laws. The EPA told the TCEQ that the plan it had created with Exide lacked enforceable limitations to achieve the lead emission projections the two entities claimed. The EPA also noted that the TCEQ did not have an established modeling protocol, which is required by the EPA, when it created and submitted the first proposed SIP and Agreed Order. Read all of the details here.
Also, remember that after the EPA sent the TCEQ/Exide back to the drawing table for address the significant flaws in their proposed plans, the TCEQ announced that it would not provide its corrected and revised SIP and Agreed Order to the public for review and comments again before its June 30, 2012, deadline to submit the plans to the EPA for approval. Public comments on the SIP and Agreed Order originally proposed by the TCEQ and Exide were instrumental in helping to uncover weaknesses in the TCEQ’s modeling and related assumptions made about the reduction of emissions from the lead smelter that sits in the heart of Frisco. Details here.
Top Global Lead Expert/Scientist: TCEQ Plan Fails to Protect Frisco Children, Community
Also in August 2011, Howard Mileke, PhD, one for the world’s foremost scientists on lead and its toxicity, testified in front of a TCEQ public hearing in Frisco that the TCEQ’s plan for Exide failed to protect Frisco’s children and community. Mileke also noted that Frisco’s Lead Legacy was a significant issue. Read all of the details here.
So TCEQ, While You’re Giving Exide More Time to Emit More Lead Dust Over Frisco,
What Happened to Formal Enforcement Action Against Exide for Hazardous Waste?
From May 6, 2011 to June 29, 2011, the TCEQ DFW Region office conducted four separate investigations at the Frisco Exide Techonologies lead battery recycling plant to evaluate compliance with requirements for Industrial Solid Waste and Municipal Hazardous Waste. During the inspections, TCEQ officials found dangerously high levels of lead and cadmium – enough to qualify the facility for Superfund site status, according to one expert. In its Sept. 12, 2011, formal Notice of Enforcement for Compliance Evaluation Investigation letter to Exide, the TCEQ listed 12 alleged violations and six concerns. The report noted that additional violations may be forthcoming. Get all of the details here.
(Background: In late December, 2010, the EPA designated almost 3 miles around the Exide lead smelter which sits in the middle of Frisco as being in nonattainment for national air quality standards. Frisco City officials and Exide worked to get the area designated as being in nonattainment cut in half, down to 1.3 miles (however, a recent lead deposition study that showed that the Exide lead smelter had dumped at least 150 tons of lead over Frisco also aligns with the EPA’s original three-mile nonattainment area designation.).
The Federal Clean Air Act requires the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) for areas found to be in nonattainment to provide for the implementation, maintenance and enforcement of national air quality standards. There also is an Agreed Order required in the process – in this case between the TCEQ and Exide – will make the control measures and contingency measures contained in the SIP revision legally enforceable.
The TCEQ commissioners will consider for possible approval the most recent version (see below) of the SIP and Agreed Order created by the agency and Exide at its May 30, 2012, meeting in Austin. The TCEQ must submit a SIP and Agreed Order to the EPA for approval by June 30, 2012.)
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
State’s extension for Exide amid Frisco dispute angers opposition groups
By VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH
Published: 14 May 2012 09:51 PM
The state is giving Exide Technologies an extra 14 months to comply with the new air-quality standard for lead because of the company’s dispute with the city of Frisco over permits.
The extension is part of the state implementation plan and agreed order that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality released Friday. Those documents, which the commission will vote on later this month, spell out what the company’s battery recycling plant must do to comply with the new lead standard approved in 2008. Earlier proposals had listed the federal deadline of November 2012 to make changes for compliance.
“The measures agreed to are substantial, and Exide believes the time allotted by TCEQ is appropriate and necessary to complete the measures,” company spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo said.
Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said the city has done nothing to delay Exide’s planned improvements, adding that the company has chosen not to follow the city’s process.
“We’ve said all along that Exide needs to be the cleanest operating plant, and that doesn’t mean two years from now, a year from now — our expectation is that’s done quickly,” he said. “Anything that delays that is of concern to us.”
Local environmental groups are upset about the extension along with the state’s listed standard for allowable hourly lead emissions, which is 10 times less stringent than the standard in California, where Exide operates another secondary lead smelter.
“The TCEQ is telling Frisco residents that the ‘first-class’ controls they want are too good for them; that they’re too effective at getting rid of lead, a poison we know is capable of doing harm at any level of exposure,” said Jim Schermbeck, director of the clean air group Downwinders at Risk. Schermbeck was referring to a technology being used by an Exide competitor in California that has reduced lead emissions to less than 20 pounds a year.
Exide emitted 1.09 tons of lead in Frisco in 2010, the most recent figure available.
TCEQ officials have said in documents that the proposed changes will bring the Frisco area into compliance. They say the agency does not have jurisdiction to consider controls that go beyond what’s needed to meet the new standard. Officials have also stated that the technology wanted by environmental groups — called a wet electrostatic precipitator — is not economically feasible.
Jaramillo said the improvements proposed for the Frisco plant are the same improvements that are already being done at Exide’s Vernon, Calif., smelter, which must comply with the stricter state standards there. “In Vernon, we are already seeing lead-in-air monitor readings below the … [national] standards,” Jaramillo said.
As for the deadline extension in Texas, TCEQ officials say Exide has already put in some controls to reduce lead emissions, and several more controls are expected by November. Any controls put in place after November will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has final say in compliance issues, TCEQ officials say.
Lead emissions are a significant issue in Frisco, where a 1.3-square-mile area around the Exide plant does not meet the federal air-quality standard. The standard was tightened because of research in recent years that has shown there is no safe level of lead exposure in people. The toxic metal has been linked to learning disabilities, lowered IQs and brain damage in children. In adults, lead exposure has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure.
That nonattainment area for lead is one of 21 in the nation and the only one in Texas.
An area in Los Angeles County also exceeds the new air-quality standard for lead because of emissions from several industry sources, including Exide.
The city of Frisco and officials with the battery recycling plant are at a stalemate over what permits Exide needs to make improvements to its facility. City officials say Exide is required to get a specific use permit before it can apply for building permits to make substantial changes to its facility. Exide believes it does not need the specific use permit, which requires review by the City Council and planning commission.
The permits will allow Exide to construct a new slag treatment building with negative pressure ventilation to reduce fugitive emissions.
Fugitive emissions are one of the main sources of lead emissions at the Frisco facility, according to state documents. Fugitive emissions are lead particles that escape through open doors or cracks in walls or get stirred up from vehicle traffic. These emissions do not go through the plant’s extensive filtration system. Without the city permit to construct the new building, the fugitive emissions will continue to be released.
Schermbeck said the deadline extension is “taking sides in a local zoning fight the TCEQ has no business in. For a state government that likes to exalt the virtues of local control, it just did a pretty good job of undermining Frisco’s.”
Maso said the state’s proposals have not changed the city’s efforts, which are focused on several fronts, including amortization, a legal process to remove unwanted businesses.
“We’re using every tool available to us as a city,” he said.