Site Overview

The site began operations as a lead smelter in 1887. It was owned by Consolidated Kansas Smelting and Refining Company, which later merged with the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). ASARCO started producing copper in 1910, operated a Godfrey roaster for cadmium oxide productions in the 1930s, and constructed a slag fuming plant for zinc recovery in 1948. ASARCO added an antimony plant in 1970. The zinc plant was closed in 1982, the lead plant closed in 1985, the antimony plant shut down in 1986, and the cadmium plant was shut down in 1992. Most recently, in February 2009, the state air permit for the copper smelter was voided by the TCEQ at ASARCO's request. The main potential chemicals of concern (PCOCs) are: Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Zinc. The media of concern is both soil and groundwater.

In 1994 and 1995, after a series of compliance inspections, it was determined that unauthorized discharges of solid waste, wastewater, and storm water had occurred at the facility. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC; the immediate predecessor of the TCEQ) issued an Agreed Order. The Order instructed ASARCO to conduct a site characterization, define the horizontal and vertical extent of soil and groundwater contamination, and define the extent of contamination across property boundaries.

In October 1998, ASARCO completed the initial site investigation and submitted the ASARCO El Paso Copper Smelter Remedial Investigation Report, El Paso, Texas.

In April 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Texas filed a civil enforcement action in federal district court that alleged ASARCO violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to properly manage hazardous waste and engaging in unlawful recycling practices. This action resulted in an April 1999 Consent Decree (H-99-1136) being entered in federal district court. In addition to addressing other ASARCO sites, the Consent Decree directed ASARCO to complete the corrective action work at the El Paso site under the 1996 State of Texas Agreed Order. The Consent Decree was subsequently modified in 2004.

On May 20, 2005, the TCEQ issued a Corrective Action Directive to ASARCO to conduct remedial action for the El Paso site. In 2005, ASARCO and related entities declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On Nov. 13, 2009 the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi issued an order confirming the plan of reorganization. On December 9, 2009, ASARCO placed $52,080,000 in an environmental custodial trust to address remedial activities.

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