Initial Asarco Results Show No Contamination

By Troy Campbell – Multimedia Journalist / NewsChannel 9 KTSM

WEST EL PASO- If there are decades of pollution contaminating El Paso’s Asarco site, there is no evidence of it based on initial testing.

As demolition continues at the old copper smelter, neighbors, former employees and environmentalists all claim this land is polluted from more than a century of smelting. So far, test results dispute that claim.

In all, four different areas on the site have been tested so far.

The first area tested was the Acid Plant. They tested the soil in that area for traces of acid. Those results show no contamination.

Another area tested was the Transformer Storage Area. In that area, they looked for traces of PCBs. Out of eight samples, only one came back with a small trace of PCBs, but the amount is below Texas regulations.

According to project manager Roberto Pugo, former Asarco employees made claims that sludge was buried around the Wastewater Treatment Plant. However, those ground samples also came back negative, showing no signs of sludge.

The fourth area they tested was the Bedding Building and Unloading Building area. There they looked for harmful chemical waste such as mercury, fuels and paint, but all 26 samples taken from that area measure less than the amount allowed by the state of Texas.

Pugo isn’t jumping to any conclusions because more ground testing needs to be done, but those areas can’t be examined until demolition is complete early next year.