ASARCO Smelter Site Cleanup, El Paso, Texas
15 NOV 2012

New Updates to the ASARCO Smelter Site Website

The Texas Custodial Trust is committed to the remediation of the Site and to working with the surrounding community and stakeholders. As part of our stakeholder outreach efforts we are dedicated to maintaining a website that has the most current and up-to-date site information. Please note that there have been new website updates and some new site activities. These include:

  1. Save the Stacks Group

    The Save the Stacks Group recently submitted a number of technical reports including the following:

    Additionally the Group has also proposed a City Resolution, which would fundamentally alter the future of the stacks. Click here to view the Proposed City Resolution. Please note that the Trust is currently reviewing the inspection report and the structural evaluation as we just received the materials on 11/14. We cannot at this time comment on the conclusions the Save the Stacks Group has reached. We have tasked our demolition experts with reviewing the materials expeditiously. We encourage the community to review these documents and email the Trust with any comments or concerns.

  2. Category I Landfill – Cell 4 and Interim Channel Construction

    Excavation for Category I landfill facility (Cell 4) began the first week of November, 2011. The final extent of excavation activities has been reached, and verified with survey data. In all, approximately 150,000 cubic yards of slag, and 140,000 cubic yards of native material was removed from the landfill footprint and Parker Brothers Arroyo, and placed in stockpiles on the plant site. Construction crews have begun placing clean engineered fill back into the arroyo to build the bottom of the landfill. An engineered 60-mil thick high density polyethylene (HDPE) liner over a geosynthetic clay liner will be installed over the prepared subgrade. A protective layer of selected impacted material will be carefully placed over the liner. Impacted soils and debris from the former smelter will then be placed into the cell and compacted. A soil cover will be placed over the filled cell to encapsulate the impacted material. Drainage improvements and erosion prevention measures will be installed as filling of the cell is completed. The final cover will be contoured to blend into the surrounding topography.

    Parker Brothers Arroyo (interim channel design)/Permeable Reactive Barrier (Field Demonstration)
    Based on information collected during the data gap assessment, the Trust, with TCEQ and EPA concurrence, has determined that removal of slag in the bottom of Parker Brothers Arroyo will facilitate remediation of the groundwater at the Site and will greatly aid in the rehabilitation of the Arroyo. In total, approximately 120,000 cubic yards of slag and slag/soil have been removed from Parker Brothers Arroyo and placed in stockpiles on the plant property. Once the excavation of the slag material was completed, the Trust, in conjunction with TCEQ, collected verification, the area will be backfilled with clean material and then constructed to the approved configuration that meets the City of El Paso drainage design requirements. Select areas of the Interim Channel have begun to be backfilled.

    As part of the field demonstration for the permeable reactive barrier technology, two permeable reactive barriers were installed. The locations selected were PRB-1 (located in the eastern most portion of the section of Parker Brothers Arroyo), and PRB-2 (located within a narrowing of the bedrock in the historical arroyo channel bottom). Construction of the PRBs began in September and was completed in October 2012. Between the two PRB walls a total of approximately 250 linear feet of material was placed. In total, 650 tons of zero-valent iron, mixed with approximately 1,500 tons of clean sand and gravel was installed. The mixture resulted in a zero-valent iron percentage of approximately 30 percent by weight within the PRB. The PRB thicknesses in each wall were 8 feet thick and installed to a depth of up to 25 feet below ground surface. After installation of the PRBs, interim groundwater monitoring events are being conducted to measure groundwater concentrations of the chemicals of concern and the analytes of interest. These monitoring events are part of the field demonstration program to evaluate the effectiveness of this installation and technology. Findings from this field evaluation will be used to augment this installation if needed for use as a long term solution in Parker Brothers Arroyo and help determine if the technology is appropriate for other arroyos on the plant site.

    Regulatory approvals from TCEQ and the City of El Paso have been received for both the Category 1 Landfill – Cell 4 and the Interim Channel Design (Click here to view these approvals). A revised design package for the landfill liner system was submitted to TCEQ on July 9. Excavation of Cell 4 is completed and we have begun placement of the engineered backfill to bring the grade back up to the landfill design elevation. Excavation of the Interim Channel began at the end of January 2012 and was completed in July 2012. Installation of the Cell 4 liner will begin once the excavation and prepared subgrade is complete and is anticipated to be completed and we received concurrence from TCEQ and EPA to proceed with the placement, this is anticipated to be January 2013. It is anticipated that filling of the landfill will take 12-18 months. We will continue to monitor the field demonstration of the two PRBs, detailed monitoring of the treatment results will occur for at least a year, and continued monitoring of the PRBs will continue as part of the site operations and maintenance.

  3. Demolition Update

    Facility demolition is wrapping up as asset recovery operations continue and additional work is conducted on the structures that will remain after demolition. During The Trust continued to identify valuable matte materials and approximately $11.9MM of additional matte material was recovered and sold in 2012.

    The demolition site activities have focused on selective demolition of the Bedding Building and managing concrete, wood and other materials generated during the previous structural demolition activities. Asbestos abatement activities were also completed at the Powerhouse Building. Note that the Powerhouse Building was not included in the original demolition scope. However, after a more detailed assessment of the costs associated with retaining the Powerhouse Building, it was determined that the building would be demolished and that some mechanical components from inside the Powerhouse Building would be salvaged for historical purposes. Portions of the Administration Building will also be abated and demolished to return the building to its original adobe structure which will be preserved for future use. The demolition of these structures is scheduled to be completed in 2012 through first quarter 2013.

    Demolition of the two large concrete stacks has been suspended as described in the Trustee’s statement on this page (click here to view this statement). Lastly, several large water tanks will remain on site to facilitate investigation and remediation activities.

  4. Property Disposition & Development

    Recently, the Trust has hired the national commercial real estate firm, Transwestern, to begin the complex marketing process of the El Paso Site. Transwestern has joined forces with an El Paso commercial real estate expert David Etzold of Etzold & Co. to provide the Trust with a team of professional experienced brokers who began the site feature analysis and market study in August of 2012. Full marketing of the site is contingent upon disposition of the smoke stacks, final determination of site uses by the EPA, and implementation of the results of a traffic access study.

  5. TxDOT Coordination for the Expansion of I-10

    The Trustee continues to work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on easement negotiations for the proposed expansion of the Border Highway West. To date, the Trustee has completed an archaeological survey around the former Smeltertown cemetery to assist with the negotiations. In addition, we are working with TxDOT to evaluate alternative grading configurations and improvements to the drainage structures near I-10 that will equally facilitate both the Border Highway West and smelter clean-up projects.

  6. Recent News

    Local publications have recently written a number of articles on the Site. Such articles include Asarco smokestacks: Preservation group awaits structural safety analysis and Could an earthquake topple the stacks? Additionally, click here to view all recent news articles on the Site.

Thank you for your interest in the website. We appreciate your blog posts and are working to answer any questions in a timely manner.