Frisco: Contaminants won't delay Grand Park project

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 7:58 PM

FRISCO –– The discovery of several contaminants at Frisco's Grand Park site has local environmentalists wondering who will foot the bill for the project. 

An e-mail from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality noted contamination down Stewart Creek, which runs through the middle of the planned 340-acre park development meant to replace the Exide Technologies battery lead recycling plant. 

Exide ceased operations in November of last year after reaching a $45 million deal with the city of Frisco. The plant repeatedly failed to meet federal lead emission guidelines. Under the deal, the Frisco plant would cease operations and be torn down. Exide was responsible for the cleanup. 

The city bought 180 acres of undeveloped land from the company for $45 million, which it planned to use for the private development. But there's a new wrinkle: The state discovered contaminants along the creek, which runs through the middle of the planned park site.

Lead battery chips were found along the banks, which likely came from the defunct Exide plant. The facility recycled lead car batteries for the past 42 years. 

"I want to see the park here," said Meaghan Green, with the local environmental group, Frisco Unleaded. "I think it's going to be grand. However, it needs to be cleaned up."

Mack Borchardt, the former Frisco fire chief who's overseeing the Exide cleanup, says he's not surprised battery chips were found. He says since Stewart Creek runs downstream from the plant to the park site, city leaders expected to find contamination here. 

"I don't believe it will delay any plans actually," said Borchardt. "I think it will fall into place as we move forward with that project."

But Exide recently declared bankruptcy, fueling concern about who will foot the bill for the cleanup. Borchardt says it would be Exide’s responsibility, as the deal established. 

"I would agree that this is Exide's problem," said Green. "However, with bankruptcy looming above them, I don't have an answer."

Grand Park plans call for several small lakes that will be built along the current path of Stewart Creek. The city has enrolled in a voluntary cleanup program sponsored by the TCEQ to get the lead out.

Borchardt said the city will conduct more testing across all 340 acres of the park site to make sure any contaminants found here are removed before construction begins.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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