Groups claims Exide released 300,000 pounds of lead dust

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 19 at 9:44 PM

FRISCO - A Frisco citizens' group claims the city’s Exide plant has put 300,000 pounds of lead dust into the air over 48 years. But a government agency says those numbers may not add up.

The citizens' group, Frisco Unleaded, is standing by their numbers. They claim it was based on Exide's own information filed with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The citizens' group sent out an alarming flier to 33,000 homeowners. It shows a map of the area impacted by lead pollution from Exide's battery recycling plant. It's more than double the size if the federal government's map.

"You can't tell me that lead particles go up and come straight down," said Meghan Greene, a Frisco Unleaded board member.

A Houston engineering firm hired by Frisco Unleaded claims Exide emitted 300,000 pounds of lead dust since it opened 48 years ago. The EPA's emission numbers on Exide are much lower, 82,000 pounds.

But the EPA numbers cover a 23-year period.

Comparing the same period for both studies, the government numbers would double. But it’s still substantially lower than the citizen group’s study.

"Based on our estimations of what we've known over the past 20 years or so, that number is much, much, much higher than the true emissions number," said Exide spokesperson Susan Jaramillo.

The study was paid for by Downwinders at Risk, a regional clean-air group that created Frisco Unleaded. They stand by the numbers, which they claim were based on information provided by Exide.

"Before 1988, we're relying on their permits, memos and other emission documents they have on file with the state agency and the EPA," said Jim Schermbeck of Downwinders at Risk.

Frisco homeowners like Linda James say the emission numbers don’t matter.

"I don't really care about the discrepancy," James said. “What I care about is lead, period."

Frisco Unleaded’s map of the pollution zone surrounding the plant is five square miles. The EPA's impact zone is only one mile surrounding the plant.

"With the amount of construction and building that has gone on in this city, and with the crazy wind we have, you can't tell me things don't move around," said Kendall Meade, a Frisco homeowner.

Frisco Unleaded officials are hoping their flier will persuade the city council to move quickly and take action to shut Exide down.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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