FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) - Exide Technologies has just struck an agreement with the City of Frisco and the state to significantly reduce harmful lead emissions from its battery recycling plant. The agreement is being announced by State Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano).
About one square mile around Exide's plant is one of only 16 areas across the country that fail to meet federal air quality standards for lead emissions. That area includes nearby homes, apartments and Frisco High School.
The plant has been in operation since 1965 and sits just east of the Dallas North Tollway, north of Stonebrook Parkway.
Under the agreement, Shapiro said that Exide Technologies has agreed to use state-of-the-art technology to clean the air in and around the plant, and to abide by a number of new regulations above and beyond current federal and state requirements. As CBS 11 News reported last week, Exide said that it would spend up to $20 million and would reduce lead emissions by 90 percent by November 2012.
Exide spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo said that the company would enclose a majority of the plant. Shapiro said that Exide has also agreed to open the plant to quarterly inspections of its facility, new record-keeping measures and an annual testing of its stacks.
As part of the deal, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will include the battery recycling plant in the state's implementation plan (SIP) to meet federal air quality standards. The TCEQ will regularly make public the air quality data measured at the plant's four air monitors.
Shapiro proposed a bill that would have required tough new regulations on the plant. Exide said last week that it opposed the legislation because "It's just an undue regulatory burden on us going forward because our industry is already heavily regulated." But Shapiro said that she is pleased by the agreement between the company and the City of Frisco, and said that her bill will not be needed.
Recently, a new citizens group called the 'Get the Lead Out Frisco Coalition' was formed by former Frisco councilwoman Joy West and the current mayor's wife, Val Maso. West told CBS 11 News that their goal was to "have Exide pack and up and leave."
In an email Wednesday afternoon, West told CBS 11:
Not good enough! Just wanted to let you know that why is it ok for Exide to put the technology in to their California plant to reduce lead to 12 pounds yearly, but spending 20 million dollars to only put 600 pounds of lead in the air in Frisco is ok? We are still fighting this!
The state will still conduct health risk assessments around the plant, and Exide said that it will continue to offer free blood tests to any concerned residents. The state health department recently conducted blood tests and the city said that those results should be made public in the next 60 to 90 days.
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