Email regarding zoning at the Site

The following is an email from Heather McMurray to the Site Trustee, Roberto Puga. Mr. Puga’s response is bolded

Mr. Puga,

I plead with you, to examine your conscience, your faith and values as a human-being: do not let children grow up on the old Asarco site. Tell the community the truth.

According to the Federal Dept. of Justice/EPA Asarco sent the stuff here to be incinerated for the almighty-dollar. Mexican American children, the elderly and the ill were deliberately sacrificed for profit.

Someone sent secret hazardous wastes to Asarco El Paso for incineration during the 1990’s knowing it would hurt us.

Please let the communities know that the TRUST is not responsible under its Asarco-Bankruptcy-Contract for addressing any of what Asarco did between 1991 and 1998. That our region has been environmentally sacrificed to materials more toxic than arsenic if inhaled or swallowed. That you and the Trust are not required to address that problem. Paving over the Asarco site will not make it safe.

thank you,

Mr. Puga’s response:

Dear Ms. McMurray,

Thank you for your continued interest in the remediation of the former ASARCO site.

As you may be aware, the City of El Paso in 2010 commissioned a development study of various parts of the City, including the former ASARCO site from the city planning firm Dover Kohl. The development study included a community interaction phase that solicited input from the community regarding their vision for the future of the former ASARCO property. The Dover Kohl study recommended that the former ASARCO site properties west of I-10, i.e., the primary plant site and the area between Paisano Drive and the Rio Grande formerly called Smeltertown, would be zoned for commercial/light industrial use. These properties are not zoned for residential use.

However, the former ASARCO properties east of I-10, which were not part of the plant site but did have wastes disposed on them, potentially could be utilized for residential uses if the properties could be cleaned up to residential health and safety standards. The Trust is currently investigating the extent of contamination on these properties and the cost of cleaning them up to residential standards. Based on the findings of the investigation, the Trust will make a decision as to whether these properties could be developed as residential. As we have in the past, the Trust will confirm with TCEQ and EPA the desired uses for all of the properties and will announce its decisions via the Trust’s website and the media.

As to your second point, the Trust was not provided with resources or mandate to address past physical injuries that may have been incurred by any person who worked at the ASARCO plant, and was not provided with resources or mandate to address ASARCO’s “actions,” legal or otherwise, while it owned the site. However, the Trust was tasked with: 1) coming up with the best remedial plan achievable with the money provided by the bankruptcy court to address the environmental concerns and 2) to sell the property according to the appropriate uses allowed by the TCEQ and EPA, in conjunction with consultation with the City of El Paso on the use and sale of the property; the Trust is committed to fulfilling these tasks.

Roberto Puga

1 Response Add a Comment

  1. Comment by Heather — April 4, 2012 @ 3:28 am

    Mr. Puga,

    Dover Kolh did not inform the community about the illegal wastes present at the Asarco site. I was there. So the community was dreaming a better life for land far more contaminated than they were told.

    I realize that “smart growth” is a process begun along with prior EPA staff to cleanup what the call “brownfields” However,
    this site should be a superfund site and to “clean it up” —- to move people to work and live there is wrong

    You worked on this site’s remediation without giving this community a chemical analysis of the pond sludge that had been dried in the bedding building and then sent clear down to corpus christi for disposal [2006]. Were samples taken fron the inside of this building when testing for the ex-workers. I could not find any mention of it — only the outside.

    Same as we were denied an official sample from the remains of that facilities “Ionics brine distillation unit” by the Trust, the TCEQ and the EPA. Not only are we denied full metals-analysis of that machine — and the “contop” stack — including actinide metals; but, we have been denied a sample of of our own to test—-unbelievable since the Trust has spent nearly half a million dollars on testing without apparently testing for actinides.

    This community is not being told the whole story.

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