A Frisco battery plant is fighting worries about its emissions by paying for blood testing.
A 2.4-square-mile area around Exide Technologies Inc., including some schools and downtown Frisco are in violation of new federal lead pollution standards. The Environmental Protection Agency's designated attainment zone includes Pizza Hut Park to the north and Frisco High School to the south.
The lead smelter, which crushes and recycles used automotive and industrial batteries, is paying for blood testing for people who live within the attainment zone to alleviate health concerns.
"I'm highly confident that when the blood testing is complete, that nobody will show positive lead results as a result of emissions from this facility," plant manager Don Barar said.
Dr. Vicki Davis, who has a 25-year-old practice in Old Town Frisco, agreed.
"I don't think we'll find any," she said.
Davis said her only cases of lead poisoning involved older homes, paint, plumbing and pottery. The few cases she saw occurred almost 15 years ago, when lead emissions from the plant were much higher, she said.
She said her office has had more than 50 calls for appointments and numerous walk-ins for the blood testing.
"We all thought, you know, this probably will be nothing, but better safe than sorry," Bridgette Turbiville said.
Exide has not placed a limit on the number of people who can be tested or set an end date. Davis said the plant has quietly paid for any lead-related blood tests for 25 years.
Exide Technologies took over the facility in 2000 to recycle old car batteries.
The battery plant originally opened in 1964, when Frisco was still a train stop and boasted a population of hundreds. Frisco currently has about 112,000 residents.
Exide said it is using new technology and filters to lower its emission levels and expects the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to decrease the size of the attainment zone after reviewing the results of air and soil samples.
The company withdrew an application one year ago to increase production at the plant because of air quality concerns.