Up To $20 Million More Could Be Needed To Clean Up Asarco

EL PASO, Texas — It could cost up to $20 million to clean more than a million cubic yards of slag from an arroyo that funnels arsenic into the groundwater and the Rio Grande, according to an El Paso Inc. story.

Slag is the black byproduct of smelting that’s piled up along Interstate 10 and buried under the giant structures and pavement of the former Asarco site.

But the money allocated to El Paso by a Corpus Christi federal court in the $1.8-billion bankruptcy settlement approved in December 2009, doesn’t cover that portion of the cleanup.

El Paso received $52 million in the settlement. The money, which was placed in a trust, is enough to essentially pave over and drain and treat contaminated water under the site, as well as demolish buildings.

But the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality argues the slag is not a health or environmental hazard, and that’s why cleaning the arroyo was not included in the agency’s remediation plan. The main Asarco is between the river and Interstate 10, but the property also includes the more than 200 acres on the UTEP side of the highway.

Source: www.kvia.com