EXIDE FRISCO BREAKING NEWS: Cleanup costs elusive more than a year after Exide’s closure in Frisco
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Cleanup costs elusive more than a year after Exide’s closure in Frisco
Total costs to clean up contamination in Frisco are still up in the air more than a year after the Exide Technologies plant closed.
City and state officials filed claims this month in U.S. bankruptcy court to hold Exide accountable for all costs. But neither put a price tag on what those might be.
“The full extent of on-site and off-site environmental impacts has not been fully characterized and delineated,” the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality wrote in its filing.
That’s because Exide must do more tests. State regulators ordered Exide to get a better handle on the hazardous waste that resulted from decades of operations. That includes not only what’s on plant property but also what migrated downstream through Stewart Creek.
The plant ceased operations Nov. 30, 2012, as part of an agreement with the city. The agreement calls for Frisco to purchase about 170 acres of buffer land from Exide for $45 million. The company will keep the 90 acres used for its operations. The deal is contingent on complete cleanup. Preliminary estimates peg cleanup costs at anywhere from $15 million to more than $130 million.
But efforts the past year have been complicated by Exide’s bankruptcy filing in June.
In addition, plans to re-treat the soil with too-high levels of lead and cadmium found in an on-site landfill were halted after conflicting results from a pilot test in March. The landfill was not permitted to hold hazardous waste.
Exide initially reported the problem was isolated to a few open sections of the landfill because procedures weren’t followed in 2010 and 2011. A further review found hazardous levels in all sections of the landfill dating back as far as 1998.
In September, the state environmental commission issued a notice of enforcement alleging 10 violations related to the plant’s handling and treatment of hazardous waste.
The agency plans to work with Exide in the coming months on a negotiated settlement in the enforcement action, which will address the landfill problems.
Equally concerning to some are the other landfills on Exide’s property. Now capped, these landfills were used long before federal disposal rules existed. They also contain hazardous waste.
Cleanup options range from digging everything up and carting it off for disposal elsewhere or sealing it in place for long-term monitoring.
Two groups vocal about the Exide cleanup said the latter shouldn’t be an option. Downwinders at Risk and Frisco Unleaded are campaigning to have all the hazardous waste transported to a facility permitted to handle it.
They recently hired Denton-based economist Bill Luker Jr., who calculated the impact of Exide’s contamination on the assessed value of 90 homes near the plant.
The neighborhoods with an average home value of $189,347 are bordered by the Dallas North Tollway, Stonebrook Parkway and the city’s future Grand Park.
Luker found an average negative impact of about $24,613 on the home values there in 2011.
“Without the presence of that site and without the presence of a contaminated Stewart Creek, they would be appraised at a much higher value than they are,” Luker said.
Exide’s investigations of the soil, creek sediment and groundwater around the plant are expected to be done in May. In addition, state regulators plan to do a risk assessment on potential options for the landfill.
The state environmental commission’s goal, officials have said, is “to ensure that any options identified are fully evaluated in terms of short- and long-term risks they might pose to human health and the environment.”
Exide Technologies will host an open house from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at The Depot in the Frisco Heritage Center to answer questions about the cleanup.