FRISCO — Frisco's city manager said Thursday that a battery recycling plant in the center of the city would soon start testing residents’ blood levels for lead.
The decades-old plant operated by Exide Technologies Inc. has some of the highest lead emissions in the south-central United States. Lead is toxic even in minute amounts and can cause brain damage, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
In a letter to citizens released on Frisco's Web site, City Manager George Purefoy also said that the company has asked state regulators for permission to reduce the plant’s permit limits. The idea is to reduce the boundaries of what’s now a 2-square-mile area around the plant that is not expected to meet the new, more stringent requirements for lead in the air.
An Exide spokeswoman said she would have a response to the city’s letter later tonight. A spokesman with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said that the company's application was still under review. It’s unclear what effect the application might have on the boundaries and whether it could be considered before the Environmental Protection Agency announces its decision Oct. 15.
The move toward blood lead level tests and the company's permit request comes a week before an area of Frisco, including downtown and Pizza Hut Park, will be designated in nonattainment for lead. The area is expected to be one of only 17 such designations in the country.
Since the nonattinment area was proposed a year ago, Frisco city officials have pushed federal and state regulators to add air-quality monitors around the plant, which already has three. City leaders have also urged the Texas health officials to start a health risk study for people who live near the plant.
In the letter, Purefoy said that the TCEQ is waiting to start such a study until the EPA completes testing on soil samples taken from 13 sites, including Frisco High School and the Frisco Police Department. The results from the samples, which were taken in March, have not been released.