EXIDE FRISCO BREAKING NEWS: TCEQ files Agreed Order against Exide and charges company with more than $2.45 million in fines for six violations of storing and handling of hazardous waste at Frisco lead smelter site
Exide faces $2.45M in state penalties as part of plan for former Frisco plant
Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer
The Exide Technologies plant in Frisco, seen last week, shut down in November 2012.
The penalties are part of a proposal that will be considered at the April 15 meeting of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The six violations issued in 2013 relate to Exide’s handling and storage of hazardous waste at its site along Fifth Street.
The state’s proposed agreed order is the latest step in the cleanup process in Frisco, where extensive contamination exists from the plant’s decades of operations. The order also calls for keeping the hazardous waste in the Class 2 landfill on site for long-term monitoring. State regulators say the other option — digging up the waste and transporting it to another permitted facility — is impractical and carries a risk to people and the environment.
The state’s action comes on the heels of Friday’s U.S. bankruptcy court ruling in Delaware that confirms the company’s plan of reorganization. The confirmation allows the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy once it meets all of the conditions set out in the plan.
Exide has already agreed to the terms in TCEQ’s proposal, including the $2,451,984 penalty.
But because of the bankruptcy, it’s unclear how much Exide will end up paying. TCEQ will have an unsecured claim in court for the bulk of the assessed penalty. A minimum of $100,000 is expected to go to the state’s general fund upon bankruptcy court approval, according to TCEQ officials.
Exide officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The Frisco site was home to a secondary lead smelter and battery recycling facility that handled used industrial and automotive batteries since the 1960s. Exide ceased operations in November 2012 as part of an agreement with the city. That agreement called for the city to set aside $45 million to purchase about 180 acres of vacant land surrounding Exide’s operations. The city had planned to use the land for development.
But Exide’s bankruptcy filing in June 2013 put that agreement in limbo.
City officials and Exide continue to negotiate new terms for that agreement. Friday’s bankruptcy court order acknowledges the continuing negotiations, saying Exide “has provided adequate assurance of future performance” regarding the agreement.
Regardless of that agreement, state regulators are moving forward with cleanup plans. Those plans will cover not only the plant property but also surrounding areas where contamination has spread. The main contaminant is lead, which is toxic even in small amounts. Testing has also identified hazardous levels of arsenic, cadmium, antimony and selenium.
“Exide will be responsible for cleaning up any contamination of Stewart Creek as part of the corrective action for the former operating plant,” regulators said in a statement Monday. The overall cleanup plan for the site has not yet been developed, officials said.
Under the state’s proposed agreed order, Exide will place a temporary cover over the landfill while a final closure plan is drafted and approved. That temporary cover will reduce exposure while the final plan is being developed, state officials said.
TCEQ issued its notice of enforcement against Exide for 10 violations in September 2013. Four of the violations were dropped. Officials said Monday that in three instances, similar violations were combined. The agency determined that it received further information on a fourth violation that indicated pursuing the violation would not be appropriate. That left six violations to be addressed in the agreed order.
Follow Valerie Wigglesworth on Twitter at @vlwigg.