Several Frisco neighborhoods, along with some schools and the downtown area will automatically be in violation of new federal lead pollution standards when they come into force in mid-October, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The agency said Texas environmental regulators must outline a plan of how the 2.4-square-mile area will comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards within three years.
"This is really the first step," Guy Donaldson, a chief of air planning at the agency, told The Dallas Morning News. "The steps that bring about better air quality (come) when the plans are put into place to make the pollution controls and get emissions reduced."
The lead emissions at a decades-old lead smelter operated by Exide Technologies Inc., which crushes and recycles used automotive and industrial batteries, are among the highest in the south-central U.S., the newspaper said.
But Exide and Frisco city officials disagree with the proposed boundaries, saying the 2.4-square-mile nonattainment area is too big.
The nonattainment area is based on computer modeling that predicts air lead levels when Exide is releasing the maximum permitted emissions. Exide, though, usually operates at half those emissions.
Melissa Kuskie of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said in an e-mail that air modeling shows lead concentrations "to be roughly two to three times higher than actual monitored values."
Exide and city officials argue that the area should be much smaller and based on actual data from three air-quality monitors near the plant. In a letter sent Friday to the EPA, Frisco City Manager George Purefoy urged the federal agency to reconsider the boundaries.
State environmental officials said they used modeling based on the plant's permitted emissions to account for any future increase. EPA officials agreed with the state's procedures and recommend adopting the state's boundaries.
Exide said it is already trying to reduce lead emissions. Company officials said they've installed new dust collection filters on several bathhouses and plan other upgrades.