Email from Peggy McNiel to Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D Chairman TCEQ

Email Subject Heading: El Paso Politicians Asarco Stacks Demolition Delay Request

Mr. Bryan W. Shaw:

I’m sending this letter to you and copying other associates of the TCEQ, including Mr. James Sher as well as the project EPA contact, Mr. Chuck Barnes and Mr. Roberto Puga, the trustee who is doing a fabulous job on the El Paso Asarco site remediation as well as dealing with our politicians and community.

This is not only to inform you of our situation in El Paso but also to request on behalf of the majority of citizens of El Paso including our group–Stacks Down for Safety—that you not delay the planned and budgeted demolition of the Asarco smokestacks for any reason other than winds over 25 mph. Thankfully, according to Mr. Puga as quoted in the 3/8/13 “El Paso Times” article, the questions asked will not delay the April 13 demolition.

Not one of the politicians listed in the El Paso Times article; U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, state Rep. Marisa Marquez, County Judge Veronica Escobar (who when running for County Judge signed our petition to demolish the stacks) or city Rep. Susie Byrd attended the community meeting conducted by the trustee, Mr. Roberto Puga. If they had attended, their questions cited in the article would have been answered. In fact, as Mr. Puga stated, he and/or his team or the TCEQ has answered the questions listed many times.

Unfortunately, these politicians are becoming the mouthpiece for Robert Ardovino, Sapp and others in their group. Sapp attended the last community meeting and was at the very least, harassing Mr. Puga and members of the demolition team. It is quite obvious that members of their group are the ones who have gone to the five politicians and raised questions regarding the remediation plan. The questions asked at the meeting were easily answered by Mr. Puga and the team.

The article states that the politicians are asking whether or not risks associated with demolition have been adequately addressed. Again if they had attended the presentation, all risks were addressed. Since this letter has been instigated by the Ardovino and Sapp group, nothing that the TCEQ or the EPA would present will be accepted as “adequately addressing” the concerns because there are no “environmental concerns” of the Ardovino/Sapp group. Their objective is to block the demolition of the stacks. Clearly, to our group, the major environmental concern is to leave the two polluted stacks standing.

I am quite grateful to the reporter, Marty Schladen of the El Paso Times for reporting that such a letter is being drafted and sent requesting a delay. It is quite revealing that the above politicians would sign a letter without attending the meeting which explained the demolition process and without doing any research into other Asarco sites where the same “demolish and bury” remediation process has been utilized without any mishaps years after implementation.

I have requested yesterday for the second time that these same politicians respect the Dec. 4th, 2012 deadline and support the demolition process. Anyone in El Paso has had since 2009 to come forward with a financed plan to leave the Asarco stacks standing. Mr. Puga has extended the deadline twice to accommodate the most recent group led by Ardovino and Sapp. Last year our City Council voted “no” on a proposal to purchase the stacks or spend city funds on any project related to or including the stacks. Even if the stacks were given to the city, millions of taxpayer dollars would be needed to stabilize the stacks, maintain them annually and remediate them of contaminants. In poll after poll, the majority of El Pasoans have made it clear that they do not want their tax dollars to be allocated to maintaining the stacks.

To reiterate, we support the demolition of both of the Asarco smokestacks, the continued remediation of the Asarco site and request that there be no delay unless due to natural winds above 25 mph not the bloated winds of our politicians.

Thank you for your attention to this matter on behalf of our citizens’ group and on behalf of the majority of El Pasoans.


Peggy McNiel of “Stacks Down for Safety”

P.S. The members of the “Stacks Down for Safety” group with e-mails have been copied on this letter.

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