Pollution fear prompts plant to offer lead testing to all Frisco residents

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on October 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 9 at 8:06 PM

FRISCO - For years, the people in the City of Frisco have been concerned about the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant off of Fifth Street.

The mayor and city council sent a letter to all 97,000 residents saying they want to "assure that the Exide plant is the most environmentally-advanced plant in the country or lead the efforts to stop its operation."

One big step in that effort is offering testing to all of the people who live in Frisco.

This is a change from a year ago.

One year ago, Frisco mayor Maher Maso said if Exide can't be open and transparent, they have no place in Frisco.

But now, the company is talking with the city and offering to test everyone who lives in the city for lead in their blood.

Kendall Meade and Linda James live in Exide's non-attainment zone, an area where the Environmental Protection Agency says emissions are higher than national air quality standards.

They applaud Exide for picking up the tab for blood tests, but say it's still not enough.

"I also think they should consider doing soil testing as well, since the plant has been there for many, many years. We don't know what's in the soil, as well," said Linda James.

"We don't know what is really safe and how it is affecting families and there are so many children in this area that are impacted and we want to make sure that everyone's safe," said Kendall Meade.

The company and the city agreed to have Frisco Dr. Vicki Davis draw blood for anyone in the city who wants it.

She will send the samples to a lab in Wisconsin she describes as reputable and accurate.

"That is the number one priority and that's the reason the lab that is being used is being used," she said.

Exide recycles lead acid batteries. During the process of breaking down those batteries, they emit lead into the air. An Exide spokesperson told WFAA they're installing new equipment at the Frisco plant that should lower their emissions and bring them in line with federal standards.

The company is hoping the blood tests give neighbors peace of mind.

"It allows the residents of the City of Frisco to realize the fear that is out there, based on what can be misinformation, is unfounded," said Susan Jaramillo, a spokesperson for Exide.

"I think that a lot of what's creating the fear is the not knowing. So if we have some actual factual information, then people can know if they should be alarmed or not," said Meade.

That non-attainment area is two square miles and includes several schools, downtown Frisco and Pizza Hut park.

Exide officials say the blood testing will begin in a few weeks.

City officials say they'll post information on the city's website as soon as it's available.

E-mail: sstoler@wfaa.com

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