BREAKING NEWS: Frisco citizens group and City disagree over testing levels for clean up of land surrounding Exide lead smelter site
Below are stories regarding the disagreement between Frisco Unleaded and the City of Frisco regarding testing levels for the clean up of land surrounding the Exide lead smelter which closed in November 2012:
Advocacy group claims Exide not meeting cleanup standard, city disagrees
The demolition of Exide’s Frisco lead-acid battery recycling plant is nearing completion, though the cleanup of the land surrounding the plant will last about another year or more. Photo by Kelsey Kruzich.
By Anthony Tosie, firstname.lastname@example.org, @anthonytosie on Twitter
A local citizens group monitoring Exide Technologies’ cleanup of the land surrounding the company’s former Frisco lead-acid battery recycling plant says the company isn’t meeting standards provided by the city; the city, however, disagrees.
According to a letter sent to the Frisco City Council by Colette McCadden, chair of Frisco Unleaded, Exide land is being tested at an “industrial-site” level despite previous statements by the city saying the company would be required to meet a stricter “residential” level.
Currently, McCadden wrote, Exide is only testing for toxins twice per acre (the industrial-site standard) instead of eight times per acre (the residential standard). McCadden cited an email from a representative of an engineering consulting firm hired by Exide as evidence of the discrepancy.
“This is a classic bait-and-switch maneuver,” McCadden wrote. “…We need the city of Frisco to live up to its promise to provide a bulwark of expertise and oversight to prevent Exide from taking shortcuts that will come back to haunt redevelopment efforts.”
Though the frequency of testing per acre is being administered at the industrial-site rate, the land’s toxin levels are being tested at residential standards.
A request for comment left with an Exide spokeswoman on Tuesday went unreturned.
On May 31, 2012, Exide and the city of Frisco agreed to a deal that requires the company to demolish the plant and clean the land surrounding it; about 180 acres of land surrounding the plant will be transferred to the city when cleanup is complete. In exchange, the Frisco Economic Development Corporation and Frisco Economic Development Corporation will pay $45 million to Exide when the cleanup is complete and meets agreed-upon standards.
Less than two months after the city announced the agreement, Frisco Unleaded and another advocacy group filed a lawsuit against Exide and environmental agencies to oversee cleanup efforts of the plant and surrounding land.
A statement released by the city called McCadden’s letter “misleading” and noted that the city has “no independent regulatory authority to impose any specific investigation or remediation requirements on Exide.”
“While the property is deed restricted for ‘commercial-industrial use,’ the property is being cleaned up (remediated) to a level significantly below the regulatory cleanup level for ‘residential,'” the city statement says. “Exide is following the applicable regulatory sampling protocol approved by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.”
The statement adds that the city negotiated specific standards with Exide as part of their agreement to ensure the protection of residents; those standards are being monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and TCEQ.
Despite the agreed-upon standards, city officials have maintained that land purchased from Exide will be used for commercial and industrial purposes.
In a November interview with The Frisco Enterprise, Mayor Maher Maso said the land could potentially be used for office space, a courthouse and a firefighter training center.
Exide’s stock has plummeted since California regulators issued an order on April 24 requiring the closure of a similar lead-acid battery recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., because of safety violations. The company’s stock is currently trading for less than 50 cents per share, down from a 52-week high of $3.77.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
The environmental group Frisco Unleaded sent a letter to the city on Tuesday, alleging a contradiction in the city’s stated goal and the cleanup procedures being used on the property it will buy from Exide Technologies. But city of Frisco officials said late Tuesday that the group’s statements are misleading.
Frisco Unleaded cited several documents that explain that the contaminated property will be remediated using residential cleanup standards. Frisco Unleaded said the problem is that Exide’s sampling to determine what areas will be cleaned is based on what’s required for cleanup on industrial property. Residential cleanups require eight samples per acre while industrial cleanups require only two samples per acre.
“We fear this change in sampling protocol is an indication of the kind of ‘cut-rate clean-up’ citizens have predicted Exide would choose because of its ongoing financial difficulties,” according to a news release from Frisco Unleaded.
Frisco officials said Exide’s procedures were approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which is overseeing the cleanup of the property that was home for decades to a secondary lead smelter.
“The city of Frisco has no independent regulatory authority to impose any specific investigation or remediation requirements on Exide,” the city said in a statement in response to the allegations. “That’s why the city of Frisco negotiated specific standards in the Exide settlement agreement and is working closely with TCEQ and EPA to assure the investigation and cleanup protect our residents and the environment.”
The property the city plans to buy is deed restricted and will be only for commercial or industrial use. Residential uses will not be allowed on the property. In addition, the city is requiring that lead levels in the soil be no greater than 250 parts per million. Federal regulations call for lead levels not to exceed 400 parts per million for residential uses and 800 parts per million for commercial and industrial uses.
Click here to see a copy of the Frisco Unleaded news release and its letter to the city of Frisco.