FRISCO – A controversial era ended in Frisco Friday, marked by the official closure of the Exide battery recycling plant. It took years, but community concerns over lead emissions finally closed the plant.
When the plant closed at 11 a.m., nothing looked out of the ordinary. But later in the day, when employees drove away, they were leaving Exide for the last time.
The workers said their final goodbyes. The company said 120 were laid off.
"It’s sad," said Danny Fellers. "I've been here for 34 years."
An Exide spokesperson said only four employees have been relocated to other plants.
"I really don't know," said Jose Acevedo. "But I need another job for now."
For Frisco homeowners like Linda James, Exide's last day was bittersweet. She was one of a small army of Frisco homeowners who fought for Exide's closure, fearing lead emissions from the plant's smokestacks would harm their families and scare away new businesses.
"I think it's a great day for Frisco and people in this community," said James. Even so, she says she feels for the employees who lost their jobs.
"My hope is that this community will reach out to these families and help them find work or support them during this tough economic time and over the holidays," said James.
Exide's closure is part of an agreement with the city of Frisco, which will buy 180 acres of vacant land owned by the company.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will oversee the cleanup.
"We won't see buildings being torn down immediately," said Mack Borchardt, the city’s Fire Programs Consultant. "That will come as the process moves forward."
Some homeowners, like Sheila Womack-Lundt, still have health concerns even though the plant is now closed.
"It's been a long overdue process for a lot of people that have been concerned, families especially," said Womack-Lundt.
Exide held a private gathering at the plant for the employees. Frisco Mayor Maher Maso called it a good thing for his city and said it's closing a chapter of Frisco's history.