Grand Park, Frisco's planned $23-million, 275-acre paradise of the outer-ring 'burbs, will probably be contaminated with lead, and staffers at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality know it, according to documents and emails obtained by Frisco Unleaded.
As we've reported before, the park's lake and water features will be fed by Stewart Creek, which flows past the upstream Exide lead smelter. For years, the plant dumped slag and battery chips into the waterway and onto its banks as though it were an open sewer. As part of the deal Frisco and Exide struck for the smelter's closing, the city purchased a buffer zone from the company around the site's polluted epicenter. TCEQ approved a clean-up plan of what's known as the "J-Parcel," submitted by Frisco officials.
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Yet it's clear from correspondence between TCEQ's own inspectors that they don't believe the city is doing nearly enough about the "battery chips" sluicing with rainwater toward the creek, all along Grand Park's planned eastern border. Apparently, Frisco officials intend to line the afflicted soil with a "geomembrane fabric." A TCEQ inspector told deputy city manager Henry Hill that there were too many chunks of battery to simply cover up.
"As we all know, these chips move under rainy conditions," the inspector writes in an email obtained by Frisco Unleaded. "I told Mr. Hill that our concern and I'm sure the city's concern as well is if these battery chips made it into Stewart Creek and flowed to Grand Park where a parent who is also a Frisco resident pulls one out of their child's mouth."
What's more, the creek itself around Grand Park's future site is contaminated with levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead "exceed(ing) the TCEQ ecological benchmark for sediment," according to an environmental assessment commissioned by the city in 2011. Battery chips were even discovered by inspectors at the mouth of the creek where it feeds into Lake Lewisville.
"It's clear that the toxins at the smelter are being washed into Stewart Creek with each rainfall and are surfacing and will continue to surface along the whole length of the creek, which happens to also be a tributary into Lake Lewisville," says Frisco Unleaded board member Meghan Green. "To add insult to injury, Lake Lewisville is a source of drinking water for Dallas. To say that I'm concerned is an understatement. It's time for the EPA to get more aggressive about protecting public health from this site."