Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Frisco citizen groups plan to file lawsuit regarding Exide plant
Legal action is being taken, in part to prevent any future violations.
Two citizens groups sent a notice of intent to Exide Technologies representatives, the Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental administrators on Monday, signifying the groups' plan to file a lawsuit against Exide and the environmental agencies.
The groups, Frisco Unleaded and Downwinders at Risk, cited contamination issues at the Exide lead-acid battery recycling plant in Frisco that they say have yet to result in fines or cleanup orders for the company from the EPA or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In May, Exide and the city of Frisco announced plans to close the plant by the end of the year.
In a statement, Colette McCadden, secretary of Frisco Unleaded, said Exide hasn't been held accountable for the damage it's done to the environment in Frisco.
"There are chronic contamination problems at [the Exide plant] that still pose a hazard to Frisco residents and property," she said. "There's also a long history of law-breaking that the company must be held accountable for. It's just unfortunate we have to file suit ourselves to make it happen."
In the 17-page notice letter, the group states it's taking legal action to ensure previous violations are addressed and prevent any future violations that may take place due to cleanup efforts. The letter also includes 182 pages of attachments that the groups say support the allegations. Included in the attachments are reports from both the EPA and the TCEQ.
Terry Clawson, a spokesman for the TCEQ, said the agency is working with Exide to make sure the land is properly cleaned up.
"The site is currently being assessed to determine the full extent of areas requiring cleanup," Clawson said. "Exide is assessing [and an] initial assessment should be forthcoming soon. Exide has not submitted a remediation plan for the cleanup of the site for TCEQ review. However, Exide will be required to submit a remedial action plan for TCEQ review and approval once the assessment is complete."
Clawson said the agency will oversee the cleanup of the land the Exide plant is located on to ensure everything is handled in an appropriate manner. The buffer zone of land that surrounds plant, recently purchased by the city of Frisco, has yet to be investigated by the agency; Clawson said the buffer zone is "primarily a matter between Frisco and Exide."
A statement provided by Exide said the company is aware of the letter and will continue to work with the city of Frisco and government agencies to meet all cleanup requirements.
"Exide Technologies will continue to move forward with taking the steps agreed to between Exide and the city of Frisco at the end of May regarding the sale of land and the ultimate cessation of operations at the Frisco plant," the statement said. "We remain committed to meeting all guidelines as established by the appropriate regulatory and government agencies as we continue our day-to-day operations and move forward."
Federal law requires a notice of intent be sent 90 days in advance of any citizen lawsuit over environmental laws before citizens can "stand in the shoes" of regulatory agencies to enforce those laws. The group plans to file a lawsuit regarding the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Resource and Conservation Recovery Act.
Frisco Unleaded, an affiliate of the Downwinders at Risk network, was founded last August to combat Exide's toxic emissions.
The Exide Technologies plant has been recycling lead-acid batteries in Frisco since 1969. The company's recent agreement with the city of Frisco requires the plant to cease operations no later than December 31. Dismantling of the plant is expected to be completed by July 2013, and cleanup efforts are expected to be complete by 2014.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News