Thursday, February 7, 2013
Frisco residents hound Exide officials about landfill
Members of the public also got snippy with one another.
FRISCO Exide Technologies' second public information meeting regarding the decontamination and demolition of its Frisco lead-acid battery recycling plant was just as contentious as the first, although this time there was a clear divide between attendees -- literally.
Seats in the crowd were separated by an aisle, and on one side sat members of local citizen groups Frisco Unleaded and Downwinders at Risk, while on the other sat attendees who seemed to have differing opinions about the meeting.
Little new information was given during the one-hour session, although officials involved in the plant's current decontamination noted several changes to its plan that had resulted from the last public meeting. One of those changes was keeping the public more informed about the process through a website set up by the company.
Based on feedback from the first meeting, held on December 12, the company will now publically provide wind- and dust-monitoring data on its website.
Feedback also resulted in a change to the meeting's style, with a public question-and-answer session at the end. At the first meeting, Exide officials requested attendees to come up and ask their questions on an individual basis.
A topic of concern among residents -- the plant's on-site landfill -- was also addressed.
Frank Clark, a senior consultant on the project from Plano's W&M Environmental Group, said testing done on the landfill discovered "isolated areas" where portions of waste weren't compliant with federal environmental standards.
"Overall, we tested about 100 samples to determine which parts of the landfill satisfied the disposal criteria and which did not," he explained. "We first embarked on this investigation in late 2011."
Clark added that areas where samples didn't meet federal environmental standards will be excavated to become compliant.
"We feel very confident that this re-treatment will have very consistent [and compliant] results," he said. "Only when we've made that determination [that the material is compliant] will it go back in the landfill."
After Exide's presentation, the question-and-answer session resulted in arguments amongst both sides of the room.
Jim Schermbeck, director of Downwinders at Risk, questioned what Exide was doing about portions of the on-site landfill that have already been capped.
"You're only testing the active landfills, you're not testing the capped landfills, isn't that correct?" he asked. "You're assuming everything was done up to par for those landfills. Is [hazardous waste] leaking out of the landfill or not?"
Vanessa Coleman, an environmental manager at Exide, said the company hasn't tested the capped portions of the landfill but assured audience members nothing hazardous was leaking out.
When Schermbeck pushed the issue further as Coleman tried to answer another attendee's question, an individual across the aisle asked him to "shut up."
"Can you do me a favor and shut up and let these other people ask their questions?" the man asked Schermbeck. "I'm not for or against you, I'm telling you to shut up so other people have the chance to ask their questions."
The side the man was sitting on applauded his request, although the other half supported Schermbeck's questions. Several members of Frisco Unleaded asked similar questions, though Exide officials assured them there's been no confirmation any hazardous materials are leaking from the landfill.
During the entire meeting, two Frisco Unleaded members held a sign reading "no lead landfills left behind in Frisco" -- a clear message the group's members wanted the landfill issues addressed.
Shiby Mathew, a local mother, specifically took issue with Exide's lack of environmental involvement in Frisco prior to its agreement with the city to close the plant and sell a portion of its land surrounding the site.
"I haven't seen any of these people speak or talk about what they've done before they contaminated the plant," she said. "Don't you think you're a little too late? This has affected our children -- this has affected my children. What about things you buried years back, what about what's in the water? What are you going to do about those?"
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