EPA has concerns about Exide’s plans to treat landfill
EPA raises concerns about Exide landfill cleanup in Frisco
By VALERIE WIGGLESWORTH
Published: 05 February 2013 10:35 PM
Updated: 05 February 2013 10:35 PM
The Environmental Protection Agency has raised concerns about state-approved plans to allow Exide Technologies to treat hazardous waste in its nonhazardous landfill in Frisco.
The concerns were outlined in a Jan. 25 letter from the EPA to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Environmental groups Frisco Unleaded and Downwinders at Risk released the letter online Tuesday.
The groups had lobbied to close the secondary lead smelter near downtown Frisco and are calling for better cleanup of the contaminated property at the shuttered plant.
â€œMany of the problems cited by the agency are the same ones citizens have been complaining about since Exide announced its unusual scheme to try to treat its illegal hazardous waste in place in its Frisco landfill, instead of digging it up and re-burying it in an official, licensed hazardous waste disposal site,â€ the groups said in a news release.
Exideâ€™s landfill plans were approved by the TCEQ in December and incorporated into an order unanimously approved by the agencyâ€™s commissioners last week.
The environmental groups had questioned whether Exide would need a permit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which deals with hazardous waste. The EPA had also asked what regulatory or statutory provisions allow Exide to treat the hazardous waste on site.
Company spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo said the state considered its authority before ordering Exide to treat its hazardous waste on its Frisco property.
â€œFrom an environmental perspective, managing that waste on site presents significantly more protection to the public than digging it up, putting it into numerous trucks and moving it to a new location,â€ she said. â€œFurther, Exide will be treating the waste in containers on site, a method of waste management that does not require a RCRA permit and that is protective of the environment.â€
The release of EPAâ€™s letter comes on the eve of Exideâ€™s second public meeting. Exide ceased operations Nov. 30 as part of an agreement with the city of Frisco. Crews are dismantling the plant that recycled millions of used vehicle batteries each year and are working on cleanup plans.
The company will update the public on its progress at a meeting Wednesday in Frisco.
TCEQ officials said Exideâ€™s work plan for the landfill allows changes. Since receiving EPAâ€™s comments, Exide has made revisions. The TCEQ is reviewing those changes.
State inspections of plant property in 2011 found hazardous levels of lead and cadmium in the companyâ€™s nonhazardous landfill. Further sampling found more hazardous waste. Exide determined that procedures werenâ€™t followed.
The work plan that addresses those violations is whatâ€™s at issue.
EPAâ€™s letter suggested more extensive sampling, and Exide has used the agencyâ€™s recommendations in its revised plan under review. EPA also questioned whether Exide continued to bury waste in the landfill, which would make it difficult to locate problem areas from 2011. Exide said Tuesday that no new material has been added to the problem areas.
The EPA letter also addressed concerns about Exideâ€™s air monitoring and dust-control plans during demolition and cleanup. The agency made these recommendations â€œas a precautionary measure due to the proximity of the facility to the neighborhood and the high school,â€ it said.
Those are under review. While the plant is no longer in operation, minuscule lead particles remain in the soil that can be kicked into the air if disturbed.