About 130 workers have lost their jobs with the closing of a controversial battery recycling facility in Frisco.
The 11 a.m. shutdown of the Exide Technologies plant was the latest in the city's long battle with company over pollution and ground contamination concerns.
Neighbors had advocated for months for the plant to close.
"Daily, my kids were breathing air infiltrated with lead, cadmium, dioxin, arsenic," said Meghan Green, who helped start Frisco Unleaded, which pushed for a legal battle to shut down the plant.
The facility closed even faster after its $45 million deal with the city. Mayor Maher Maso also said that the closure was about a month ahead of schedule.
"I, quite literally, I can breathe a little easier today -- so can my kids, so can the city of Frisco," Green said.
But Green also said the progress was bittersweet.
"I sympathize with those employees because I think their company let them down," she said.
Under the city's supervision, Exide will clean up the site according to state and federal regulations. About 27 employees are sticking around to dismantle the plant and clean up contaminated areas.
City leaders said it could be months before the Exide buildings are demolished.
Gene Hampton, an Exide Technologies landscaping subcontractor, said there was a somber feeling inside the plant. Many employees did not know what they were going to do, he said.
Laid-off workers picked up their final paychecks and began leaving the facility after the 11 a.m. cessation of operations.
The company provided workers with a severance package and a private event to honor and thank them.
"We want to thank our loyal employees for their hard work and dedication over the years," Exide spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo said. "We wish they and their families the best in the future."
Bob Sanford, who had worked at the plant for 19 years, said he planned to take his severance package and retire, but admitted that he was worried for his co-workers.
Robert Romero echoed his concerns.
He said his severance package would carry his family through the holidays, but not much further. When asked about his future plans, he said: "I don't know yet. Maybe later, if there's a job."
The city and the Texas Workforce Commission have worked together to hold job fairs for the workers who were immediately affected by the plant's closure. About 50 Exide employees attended a job fair meeting on Nov. 7, according to city numbers.
The plant's closure clears the way for the city to buy the 180 acres that surround the plant, freeing up prime property off the Dallas North Tollway.
Maso said the land could one day become space for corporate headquarters or other office space. The property could also possibly house a fire training facility and courthouse, he said.