Decontamination around Exide plant could be lengthy, expensive

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 4, 2012 at 11:19 PM

FRISCO - The City of Frisco is buying 180 acres of land surrounding the Exide Technologies plant with a plan to clean it up and redevelop it.

The battery recycling facility has agreed to shut down by the end of 2012 after the city raised concerns about lead emissions.

The city council voted on the plan Monday night, ending a years-long battle. The cleanup process will begin shortly after the plant ceases operation. Decontamination will be lengthy and expensive, and some are worried it won't be done right.

Colette McCadden is a Frisco resident and a founding member of the group "Frisco Unleaded."

"There are landfills on that land, and no one knows what is in there," she said. "I have significant concerns about how well it is remediated, and whether having a park with your child playing in the dirt in that area is a good idea."

McCadden gave birth to four children during the 11 years she lived half a mile from the plant.

The city is buying 180 acres, which it calls "buffer land." Exide will retain ownership of the 90 acres on which the plant sits.

The company will be responsible for remediating that property; the city will clean the acreage it is purchasing, in hopes of one day building a park or attracting businesses.

"The land we are buying didn't really have daily engagement on it," said Frisco Mayor Maher Maso. "Our soil tests have shown contamination is minimal. Several parts do not have any contamination. The estimate we received are $750,000 to $800,000 for remediation. That is our estimate."

If remediating that land exceeds $1.5 million, the City of Frisco and Exide will split the cost.

Environmental activist Jim Schermbeck, director of the group Downwinders at Risk, said they hope it doesn't cost a lot to clean up.

"If you look at former smelter sites in Dallas, and there are three of them, they are all still brownfields, unoccupied," Schermbeck said. "It is still toxic land.

"While we are elated, obviously, that the smelter is closing and we will have no more emissions of lead, what we are concerned about is the legacy of lead contamination in Frisco and how that gets addressed," he continued.

Schermbeck and McCadden urged city council to approve a citizen's review board to oversee cleanup.

Exide opened in Frisco in 1969. The city said it will work to try to help the employees find other jobs.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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