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Frisco Accuses Exide Of Being In Default of Agreement

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FRISCO (CBS 11 NEWS) - It’s been nearly two years since the city of Frisco and Exide Technologies agreed to shut down and demolish the battery recycling plant.

But the CBS-11 I-Team has discovered the deal is in limbo.

An attorney representing the city, Larry Boyd says, “The city believes Exide is in default.”

The plant ended operations in November, 2012.

But Exide has yet to take down two buildings as agreed upon.

In court documents, the city said it’s not only concerned about default, but that it may have also other claims against Exide, including “…gross negligence, conspiracy, and… fraud.”

Exide is in bankruptcy, and because of that, its obligations are on hold and under review by a judge.

The city says it won’t know if the company will stick with the deal or walk away from it until the company files a reorganization plan by the end of May.

Boyd says, “They may live up to all of it, they may live up to none of it. We just don’t know today, and if they don’t live up to it, then we’ll have to rely on the state of Texas, and the federal government to enforce the environmental obligations that exist currently under the statutes.”

The city’s end of the obligation is also in jeopardy.

As part of the deal, Frisco agreed to pay $45 million to buy the 180 acres surrounding the plant that sits along the Dallas North Tollway, money that could go a long way for a bankrupt company.

Jim Schermbeck with Downwinders at Risk helped lead a community charge to shut down Exide. “I’m concerned it’s in trouble.”

He is particularly concerned that the crystallizer hasn’t been demolished. “For this facility to become part of the back and forth between the two entities in their agreeent, it gives me concern because it could be one of the more contaminated places on the whole facility.”

Until the facility closed, a one mile area around it was one of 16 in the U.S. that exceeded air quality standards for lead.

That’s no longer the case since the plant stopped operating.

In a letter last month, Exide told the city it was surprised by its claim the company was in default.

Exide also claims the city knows it can’t demolish the crystallizer yet, because it still uses it to treat wastewater before discharging it into the sanitary sewer system, which eventually flows into the system run by the North Texas Municipal Water District.

Exide issued a statement Tuesday saying the two buildings out here will eventually be torn down, and that any issues should be resolved during the bankruptcy.

The city says it has spent nearly $2 million dollars on the clean-up so far, and that if Exide doesn’t comply with the agreement, it won’t get any more money.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says Exide is still assessing the site and that a report is due by March 31st.

From there, it will develop a plan to clean it up.

While the TCEQ has primary oversight of the site clean-up, the EPA will review the matter as well.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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