Trustee answers questions regarding the effect of the stack demolition on the American Canal

The following is an email from Heather McMurray to the Trustee:

Hello, Mr. Puga,

We respectfully request a sample of the stack brick from the inside surface of the stack and any hollow ventilation wall; as well as a scraping from the inside of the ConTop metal stack – to be sent for archiving to a scientist of our choice, with chain of custody.

The stack implosion is not the only source of vibration – the stack-debris landing on the surface of that 80 feet of slag would create an impact. Juan Garza had predicted that the side of the long -storm pond above the railroad tracks and next to that stack was failing; and, showed through photographs that the concrete stack itself has a crack in it – visible when it is wet. Although vibration may not appear to impact that storm pond, it could have an effect on that “dam” above the railroad tracks in a 100 yr flood event. Perhaps you could include an IBWC engineer in the study’s initial design, before it is finished and posted/discussed. IBWC is responsible for the old American Canal that not only feeds over 70 miles of farm irrigation but also now supplies over 60% of our City drinking water.

There are two American canals locally and one in California. Generally the one beside Asarco that travels five miles to the Franklin Canal is described as the old American canal because it was constructed in the 1930’s. IBWC would have pictures of the construction showing the two-layered bi-directional construction of the concrete panels making up that canal. When the canal was patched-up in 2007 (just before it passed under Paisano to travel along the smelter), the El Paso Inc. photos suggest that they patched it with a single concrete layer (which would respond differently to vibration).

You will be demolishing the stack during winter. Can the engineers predict the behavior of the old american canal panels after-implosion of the stack when irrigation/drinking water begins flowing in March/April?

Please let me know if possible where the stack debris will be taken for disposal. I would like to know where other debris has been sold, melted, and/or disposed of, also. Some of that is on the recastingthesmelter site but I do not know what dump is being used for disposal of dirt and concrete debris. Is any of that debris being taken to the Camino Real Dump or the El Paso City dumps?

The IBWC asked for nearly 30 million dollars way back in 2001 to both repair and remediate the old American Canal. That is almost the entire amount that the Bankruptcy court gave the Trust to clean up all of the Asarco El Paso site.

In my lay opinion, your Trust should be legally notifying the current Administration’s DOJ Bankruptcy Trustee (for-that-court’s-region in Corpus Christi TX) that her predecessor under the Bush Administration failed to oversight the Asarco Bankruptcy allowing the court to ignore all Asarco’s liabilities from the illegal unpermitted and secret multi-state hazardous-waste disposal operation. In my lay opinion, the court should have awarded your Trust way more monies for the remediation than the Trust got; and, as a result of ignoring the illegal wastes have placed you/the Trust in a terrible situation whereby your contract ignores those poisons, also – and so places our community’s health in perpetual risk.

Please do not include the signature trailer on email to me that says: “This electronic mail transmittal (“E-mail”) is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law, including, but not limited to, information protected by the attorney/client privilege. If the reader of this E-mail is not the intended recipient or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the E-mail to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this E-mail communication is strictly prohibited.”

All my work is for the public good and not for private gain; and, I reserve the right to disseminate your email to the public if necessary. I appreciate your help.

Thank you,
Heather McMurray

Roberto Puga’s response:

Dear Ms. McMurray,

Thank you for your continued interest in this challenging project.

The Trust does not allow private parties to collect samples on its properties. The Trust does willingly cooperate with the regulatory agencies overseeing the work (TCEQ and EPA) and certainly allows them access for observation and sampling as they find necessary. I suggest that you run your request for sampling through them.

The IBWC is part of the large group of agency stakeholders that we are coordinating the stack demolition with; in their case specifically regarding the canal. We will make sure that they understand the results of our studies and that they be allowed to provide input.

The concrete debris from the stack will be disposed of on the site. Metal debris such as rebar will be recycled.

The Trust was funded with $52,000,000 for the clean-up of the site. I have been able to augment that amount by the sale of various site assets such as rail lines, the oxygen plant, and scrap metals. There is no more money available from the ASARCO settlement.

The trailer at the end of our e-mails is meant solely for someone who gets the e-mail in error. You, as the main correspondent, have every right to use and distribute the e-mails as you see fit. Additionally, as you are aware, our correspondence with you is posted on the Trust’s website and is therefore in the public domain.

Roberto Puga

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