Statement regarding the fire at the El Paso smelter

A fire started at the El Paso Smelter at approximately 4:20 PM on February 16, 2011 that lasted for approximately one and a half hours. No one was injured and no one in nearby neighborhoods or traveling on nearby thoroughfares was in any danger at any time. The fire was contained to a small unit in the Water Treatment Plant under the supervision of the El Paso Fire Department.

Preliminary investigations indicate that crews were performing approved dismantling work when the fire started. Heat and sparks from the cutting away of the stainless steel covering of the unit came in contact with a titanium pipe, causing the pipe to catch fire. The El Paso Fire Department decided that the fire was best neutralized by allowing it to burn itself out.

All work at the site has been stopped at my order pending a Root Cause Analysis and corrective measures are put in place to prevent this type of incident from reoccurring. An incident report will be filed with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The report will also be posted on the Custodial Trust’s website at by early next week. The public can ask questions or post comments on the blog section of the website; the Trust will respond to all queries.

Roberto Puga
Custodial Trustee

Leave a response