Clean-up of Frisco Exide lead smelter site, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Exide Bankruptcy, Impact on Property Values, Lastest News, TCEQ

EXIDE FRISCO BREAKING NEWS: Citizens group wants Frisco to remove all toxic waste from Exide lead smelter site; Frisco consultant says moving hazardous waste in soil to another location not preferred by City, unless its containment efforts don’t work

Exide must also take steps related to a recent TCEQ notice of enforcement that found the company mishandled and improperly treated hazardous waste at the Frisco plant since 1998. Hazardous waste was first discovered in Exide’s landfill several years ago. The landfill is not permitted to contain hazardous waste.

The main contaminants of concern are lead, cadmium, arsenic and selenium.



Work was done earlier this year at Exide’s landfill in Frisco.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)


Editorial: Bury or haul away? That’s the Exide question

 City officials want to contain the hazardous waste at the Exide plant, but environmental groups want to haul it away.

Published: 03 November 2013 06:36 PM

Updated: 03 November 2013 06:36 PM

Frisco’s plan to reclaim the former site of Exide Technologies’ battery recycling plant and the surrounding area for public use isn’t getting any easier.

An environmental consultant for Frisco told Dallas Morning News reporter Valerie Wigglesworth that the city prefers to bury the waste in place in on-site landfills, as that consultant has recommended, instead of hauling off all of the hazardous waste, which is what environmental groups want.

The city hasn’t formally endorsed a specific approach to what is an extremely important cleanup decision. This newspaper hopes that Frisco and environmental regulators have learned important lessons from the experiences in Dallas neighborhoods like Cadillac Heights and West Dallas, where environmental neglect and inadequate remediation have led to additional problems.

Regardless of the option Frisco and environmental regulators agree on, the cleanup job must be as complete as possible. Officials must keep residents well informed of the options and risks of each alternative. Cost alone cannot be the main consideration in this decision.

The former battery recycler is located on prime real estate, not far from a proposed Grand Park, the Cowboys new headquarters, Toyota Stadium and several residential and retail communities. Grand Park is planned as an expansive 350-acre regional park with a large children’s area, festival green space, a performance stage and a large lake fed by nearby Stewart Creek.

The true cost of the cleanup must take into consideration the risk of not protecting all private and public investments that already have been made or soon will be made.

Hauling off the materials is the more expensive option and one that could open the city up to greater liability since the area holds waste from an old municipal landfill. Burying the waste on site could cost about $20 million — far less than the cost of hauling it away — but that plan also creates concerns about possible leaks.

Exide says it will cooperate in remediating the plant property, and Frisco officials should press in bankruptcy court for the company to put aside adequate funds to cover a thorough cleanup.

In addition, the city and residents must be assured that they have a full accounting of contaminants. That’s important because some contaminants can be contained on-site and others can not. Consider these two recent conclusions from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Waste buried in Exide’s landfill contains dangerous levels of lead, dating to 1998, and Exide failed to adequately test for cadmium, a known carcinogen, before waste was hauled off to a regional recycling facility in 2012 and 2013. In response, Exide is about to begin another round of testing.

As the city and regulators discuss next steps, it’s imperative that Frisco make sure residents have all of the facts and that officials press for the most thorough cleanup possible.




Frisco Shut Down its Exide Plant, but It May Keep the Waste as a “Community Asset”

By Amy Silverstein Fri., Nov. 1 2013 at 9:00 AM

After lots of violations from the state and heavy campaigning by grassroots environmental group Downwinders at Risk, Exide finally shut the smelter down last year. But while the smelter is closed, all of the toxic, contaminated soil left behind from the plant might be staying in the Frisco for good, in a permanent toxic waste dump. The landfill would be upstream from Frisco’s planned Grand Park and above groundwater that flows into the Stewart Creek.

“This type of metal waste can be fairly straight forwardly contained and made into a community asset, rather than being a fenced off hazardous waste landfill,” Frisco’s Austin-based environmental attorney Kerry Russell tells Unfair Park.

Russell made similar comments to The Dallas Morning News earlier this week, drawing criticism from Downwinders at Risk, which accuses Frisco officials of leaving the public out of the decision-making process.

“That’s the first time they ever said out loud, ‘Yes, we prefer the landfill option to hauling it away,'” Downwinders at Risk Director Jim Schermbeck tells Unfair Park. “The city is on the wrong track, they’re making a terrible decision, they’re clearly in over their heads.”

In a conference-call phone interview with Unfair Park, Frisco officials insist they haven’t made a decision about clean-up yet, and that they have no power to decide where the waste will go. But they do have a chance to ask Exide to pay for the clean-up in bankruptcy court. And Downwinders points out that Frisco has so far only asked Exide for $20 million –enough to keep the waste in a toxic dump in Frisco but far from the $100 million or so needed to haul the waste away.

“I believe that Kerry, as the city’s environmental lawyer, is going to recommend the on-site option but I don’t know that for certain,” Frisco’s City Attorney Richard Abernathy tells Unfair Park. He adds that Frisco still has plenty of time to adjust how much money it wants to demand from Exide in court.

So is it smart to store that toxic waste in Frisco, a suburb with a creek that feeds into Lake Lewisville, parks and lots of homes? At least one expert we spoke with says no. “That doesn’t strike me as being a terribly a good idea,” says Dr. Bob Criss, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, speaking generally. Criss isn’t familiar with the Exide plant specifically, but he has been studying landfills in Missouri. His research led him to the conclusion that hazardous waste landfills and residential areas don’t mix. He recently found that Missouri’s Westlake Landfill could contaminate the groundwater that feeds into the Mississippi River.

“There are geologically sensible places to put certain kinds of things, and distance from people and potential problems is an important one,” he says. A licensed hazardous waste facility, out in an isolated area in the desert somewhere, is the kind of “geologically sensible” place that Frisco’s local environmentalists would like to see the Exide waste go.

That preference is backed by a fair amount of research linking health problems to living in close proximity to a landfill. A 2002 study that found that women who live within two miles of a hazardous waste landfill have a 40 percent greater risk of having a baby with a chromosomal birth defect.

Another recent study (published in May) linked shortened lives in India to proximity to landfills.

Abernathy, the Frisco City Attorney, brushes off those studies. “Are you aware that in Texas, there are a number of landfills upon which significant construction has been built in urban areas?” he said. “It’s not in India, it’s in Texas, and they’ve done it successfully.”

And Russell, Frisco’s environment attorney, says that the contaminated soil left over from Exide is different, and impossible compare to other types of landfills. “You can’t really just talk about landfills because that’s a very different subject matter, as to the type of environmental concerns with the landfill … this is a very different type of situation,” he says. But he couldn’t cite any environmental impact report commissioned by Frisco that might back that claim up. “No, there’s no study on this, because this whole process is ongoing in the regulatory process,” he says.

One of the major concerns of locals is that the Frisco waste contains lead, a vicious neurotoxin. “It is a nasty, nasty chemical, very poisonous, very toxic at low levels,” explains Criss, the Wash U researcher.

But Schermbeck, from the Downwinders group, is no longer focusing so much on the public health aspect of the whole controversy. Instead, he says, he’s now searching for an economist to study the effects that toxic waste dumps could have on home prices.

“The City Council might not care that much about public health, but they might care about destroying property values,” he says.



Update: Frisco consultant says hauling Exide’s waste offsite not preferred option

By Valerie Wigglesworth
8:08 am on October 29, 2013

Updated at 1:20 p.m.: An environmental attorney working with the city of Frisco says hauling off the hazardous waste buried on Exide’s property is not the city’s preferred option though it is still a possibility if containment doesn’t work.

“We’re dealing with a metal waste – lead – that is non-mobile, and it doesn’t require in reality the type of containment that you would have in a full-blown hazardous waste landfill,” said Kerry Russell, who is based in Austin.

Hauling off the waste is the most expensive option and would require thousands of truckloads traveling on public roads and come with its own set of public health hazards, Russell said.

But even if cost weren’t a concern, Russell said, it’s not a preferred method. “We would just be hauling this problem to another place,” he said.

In addition to the hazardous waste from Exide, the site also contains waste from an old municipal landfill. So the city carries some liability, he said.

“I strongly believe the city is in a much better position to control its liability and protect the public by maintaining control of that waste in the long term right here with the proper remediation and containment mechanism than it would be to haul it to Oklahoma or Colorado or to some other hazardous waste landfill where it’s then mixed with everybody else’s waste and you become liable for everything at that site,” Russell said.

That option means that there would be a hazardous waste landfill in the middle of Frisco that would require monitoring for 30 years or more, he said.

“But it’s not the hazardous waste that everybody thinks of when they think of Superfund sites like down in the Houston area,” he said. “This is the least harmful end of the spectrum.”

Original: The environmental group Frisco Unleaded is calling for removing all the hazardous waste at the shuttered Exide Technologies plant rather than leaving it in place in on-site landfills.

Whether to remove or contain the waste has yet to be decided. State regulators are overseeing the company’s efforts to assess contamination on the site and to decide how best to clean it up. Exide is currently in the process of revising its assessment report based on comments from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. A revised report will be posted for public comment. Exide has said it will also hold a public information meeting about the report.

Exide must also take steps related to a recent TCEQ notice of enforcement that found the company mishandled and improperly treated hazardous waste at the Frisco plant since 1998. Hazardous waste was first discovered in Exide’s landfill several years ago. The landfill is not permitted to contain hazardous waste.

The main contaminants of concern are lead, cadmium, arsenic and sellenium.

Frisco Unleaded is calling on city officials to demand the more stringent cleanup, which could cost as much as $130 million, according to estimates filed in July by a city consultant. The work involves digging up all the landfill waste and moving it to a permitted facility elsewhere. Moving all the waste to existing Exide landfills and capping it in place is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million. That option would require long-term monitoring of those landfills.

Frisco Unleaded is launching a community cleanup campaign to bring the debate into the public realm and “to put City Hall in the hot seat on the eve of a decision about the Exide property that the residents say could determine the fate of the city’s core for decades,” according to the group’s news release issued today.

“At the exact time the city needs a bold and optimistic vision for this huge piece of central Frisco, our officials seem to be willing to accept the equivalent of a Superfund site between the new Cowboys headquarters and Toyota Stadium,” Equilla Harper of Frisco Unleaded said in the release.

Exide closed its battery recycling plant and secondary lead smelter in November 2012 as part of a deal with the city. Once the property is cleaned up, the city will buy an estimated 170 acres of buffer land along the Dallas North Tollway from Exide for redevelopment. Work to clean up the site has been ongoing. In June, Exide filed for bankruptcy.

The bankrupty court has set a deadline of Dec. 9 for government entities to assert any claims against Exide. Frisco Unleaded wants the city of Frisco to ask for $130 million.

Frisco Unleaded also plans to set up in Frisco Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 9 with Dean Lovvorn, a Plano-based lead risk assessor, who will be checking items for lead content with an XRF analyzer. The public is invited to bring items, such as soil samples, jewelry, paint and pottery, to be tested for free.

The group will also be searching within the 330 acres planned for Grand Park to flag and collect suspected battery chips and slag, a waste material from the plant that has a high lead content. City consultants found contamination, including slag, during a survey earlier this year of the park. The park is located downstream from Exide.

Consultants with the city of Frisco, meanwhile, have submitted a work plan to TCEQ that outlines what it will do to assess the contamination at Grand Park. That assessment includes collecting 1,835 surface water, surface soil, and sediment samples for testing of contaminants. Once the assessment is completed, a cleanup plan will be created.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,