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State Agency Cites Frisco Battery Plant For Violations

By Arezow Doost & Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM
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Updated 9/14 3:04 p.m. with Exide’s statement.

FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – Investigators revealed numerous violations against Exide Technologies in a report Tuesday, alleging the battery recycling plant exhibited lapses in employee training and did not properly discharge of hazardous waste.

The months-long study by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was ordered in April after the plant failed to meet federal air quality standards of lead and cadmium emissions throughout a one-square mile area surrounding its property.

Those findings were released in a summary Tuesday.

Investigators detail seeing “liquid discharging through cracks and seeps” in a wall that was meant to be acting as a barrier between the plant and the surrounding environment.

Soil around this area, the report says, tested for “elevated concentrations of lead.”

Investigators later write about seeing discharge running beneath a storm water pipe leading a storm water pond. Soil collected there tested for the toxicity level of both lead and cadmium, the report says.

Those are just two of the 18 violations cited, which also include other toxicity-level lead and cadmium findings in soil elsewhere around the plant.

“Due to the apparent seriousness of the alleged violations, formal enforcement action has been initiated, and additional violations may be cited upon further review,” read a letter sent from the TCEQ to Exide.

Read the full report below: 

“Exide is in the process of reviewing the report thoroughly and have already been in contact with the TCEQ to continue looking at alternative methods to improve our operations in Frisco,” said Exide spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo in a statement.

In April shortly after the initial findings, Sen. Florence Shapiro (R – Plano) announced that Exide agreed to use state-of-the-art technology to clean the air in and around the plant, and to abide by regulations that go beyond current federal and state requirements.

Exide also promised to spend up to $20 million and reduce lead emissions by 90 percent by November 2012.

“The new regulations are very stringent and we continue to be committed to investing $20 million in the Frisco facility to reach compliance with the new standards,” Jaramillo wrote in the statement.

Residents who live nearby, however, were not satisfied with the plant’s promises. Former Councilwoman Joy West co-founded the Get The Lead Out Frisco Colation with the mayor’s wife, Val Maso.

West proclaimed in April that the group’s goal was “to have Exide pack up and leave.”

Resident Walt Kaser, who lives near the plant, spent Tuesday night with his grandson at baseball practice. He said it’s hard to forget about what’s nearby, especially in light of Tuesday’s findings.

“I would be concerned about my health and his health,” Kaser said.

The lead toxicity levels found in some of the soil samples are especially concerning: Medical experts warn that the chemical is toxic. They say it can cause brain damage in children and increase a risk of kidney problems in adults.

“It does concern me,” said resident Donella Oliphant, who lives in a neighborhood near the plant. “Are they going to do anything about it? What are they going to do about it?”

The TCEQ’s letter to Exide also says if the plant believes the violations were cited in error that officials have the right to request a meeting and produce evidence proving otherwise.

Read that full letter here: 

Here’s Exide’s full statement:

Exide is in the process of reviewing the report thoroughly and have already been in contact with the TCEQ to continue looking at alternative methods to improve our operations in Frisco. Exide takes any non-compliance issue seriously and we are investigating aspects of our business in regard to this NOE. Safety and environmental compliance are our top priority.

Our recycling facility in Frisco provides an environmental service by taking spent lead-acid batteries and recycling them for future use as opposed to having them end up in landfills. We continue to work at becoming a stronger corporate citizen in the eyes of the residents of Frisco and believe we have already taken several steps toward this. We are extremely proud of all our employees and the work that they do both as part of Exide as well as part of the community. The new regulations are very stringent and we continue to be committed to investing $20 million in the Frisco facility to reach compliance with the new standards.

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