The future for ASARCO

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

Dear Mr. Puga,

Just wondering what is the future for the ASARCO’s smeltering site. Would this site be shutdown or rebuilt for future production?

Thanks for your help.

Tony Tome

Mr. Puga’s response:

Dear Mr. Tome,

The smelter infrastructure has been demolished and removed from the site.

Once the environmental clean-up of the site is completed in about 2015, the site will be redeveloped consistent with the City of El Paso’s Master Plan document. The City’s Master Plan calls for a mixed use of commercial/retail/light industrial on the former smelter property.

Thank you for your interest in the project, and don’t hesitate to contact me with further questions.

Roberto Puga

2 Responses Add a Comment

  1. Comment by Heather — March 28, 2012 @ 1:14 am

    As the El Paso Trustee has stated before, the TRUST is under NO fiduciary or contractual responsibility to test the stack [s] or slag from the process water distillation unit —- in other words to let us know what illegal chemicals remain here. The EPA and Federal Dept of Justice said that Asarco had run an illegal multi state hazardous waste incineration operation from 1991 to 1998 to make $$$$. Despite the Trust spending nearly 1/2 million dollars on testing we still do not have test results as thorough as those run for $twenty-thousand dollars by a private citizen — which provided a full metals panel. This site should not have schools, playgrounds or businesses until we are told the complete picture. It takes only swallowing or breathing ONE alpha radioactive particle for the exposure to be more toxic than arsenic. So why after six years of questions to the EPA and others, we cannot get a report showing what radioisotopes remain including radioactive lead, radium, radon, actinide-metals……. Why on earth is this land zoned for high-density of people and as a ‘walkable’ area when it is safer to stay inside with the windows shut according to an arsenic expert in N.C.?

  2. Comment by admin — April 5, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

    Response from the Trust

    Dear Ms. McMurray,

    Thank you for your comment and continued interest in this challenging project.

    The Trust, the TCEQ and the EPA maintain that the Site is adequately characterized and based on the extensive sampling effort and chemical analyses performed on soil, slag and groundwater, the constituents of concern that drive the current remediation program are the previously identified metals: arsenic, lead and cadmium. Regarding other wastes handled at the site and their potential to have left residues after incineration which could pose some risk over and beyond the risk posed by the metals contamination, the Trust has fully evaluated the site documentation, including EPA records, process information, and manifests for shipments to the Site (a review of materials is currently provided on the Trust’s website at and will be updated as new information is identified and reviewed) and conferred with EPA, TCEQ and former employees on the matter. We additionally conducted additional sampling and testing in all areas where the former employees indicated concerns. We have also reviewed and commented previously regarding both enhanced natural and man made radioactive materials and noted that many radioactive materials occur naturally and are present everywhere and that there is no evidence of improper handling of radioactive materials at the Site.

    Given the many investigations performed at the Site, the close oversight by TCEQ and EPA and the review of all available information and data by the Trust team, the conclusion is that the chemical characterization of the site is adequate and the proposed plan for the cleanup of the Site is protective of both human health and the environment.

    The current cleanup standard for the plant site is Commercial/Industrial, which was previously determined by TCEQ. Only future development that is consistent with commercial / industrial use is allowed in the plant site. This precludes schools, daycare facilities, extended care facilities, residential uses and hospitals from being built on the Site.

    Additionally, as you may be aware, in 2010 the City of El Paso 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. Again, 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.

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