Email Response from Heather McMurray to Site Trustee, Roberto Puga

Email Subject Heading: RE: Isotopes at Asarco El Paso site

Dear Mr. Puga,
Thank you for responding.

The El Paso ASARCO site DID smelt nuclear control rod materials. That data was given to TCEQ, EPA and US DOJ many years ago.

The clean up Trust was exempt by the bankruptcy court from testing for ANY radioactive materials.

I asked why we have not ever been given the levels of any of the isotopes listed in the attached picture: i.e. ANY radioactive isotopes. You did not answer.

The 1998 EPA US DOJ ASARCO 73 page confidential for settlement purposes only document lists many invoices at the back. The Trust never reviewed that set of invoices, nor were these ever released to anyone.

Equipment was powerwashed and sold with stipulation that any testing for radioactive material be done by the buyer.

You out-right refused to run free radon tests on site. You out right refused to allow collection of any of the distillation unit’s slag. No one has tested the WWII old lead dump (where the lead smelter’s waste was deposited) for by products of wulfenite smelting.

And these examples are only a few of the many.

There is a COMPLETE absence of data from the people formerly and currently in control of the site concerning these matters.

A COMPLETE silence: NO data.

It is very glaring. What you wrote me does not concern testing for or providing this data to el paso citizens.

You categorically state that no radioactive wastes (not talking NORM) were smelted here, when that is not true. Plus you mention the smelting of NORM waste, which can be more toxic than controlled High level radioactive wastes.

Then you end your reply by stating that the site is not above regulatory levels for radioactivity: have you tested for that and where is your data ?

A single alpha particle is more toxic than the arsenic that is listed as a chemical of concern.

It is unbelievable that you sent me NO DATA in your reply.

It is a complete silence concerning the high level radioactive wastes that ASARCO , engelhard and Dupont sent here for burning. Each of them were U.S. DOE high level radioactive radioactive waste disposal contractors; and, each of them listed as sending illegal materials here for burning.

The nuclear control rod material measurements should come from our government and contractors….NOT from citizen action.

You know that the slag offgases, and that capping with clean soil and asphalt is not protective of long term exposure on that site. And you know that turning the primary arroyo into a dump, when the hugely toxic arsenic bubble exists beneath and according to TCEQ has reached the rio grande, is not protective of our public health.

Selling this site, even to a government body like UTEP, will not make it safe. I believe you know that, Mr. Puga, and I belive you care enough to speak up.

If you do not, then you leave a legacy for your family a hundred years from now of covering up something you could have exposed. That is a sad legacy, followed with the people who will grow up poisoned, with teratogenic birth defects and diseases associated with long term exposure to even low level radioactive wastes.

You have to have known this. I write this letter so future generations will know that buck stopped at your desk;and, that instead of coming clean about ASARCO’s role here as a HLRW (high level radioactive waste) U.S DOE official disposal contractor, you perpetuated the cover up. Not for just Asarco, but for several other such U.S. DOE contractors whom were caught sending illegal wastes here to ASARCO for burning (engelhard and dupont).


H. Mcmurray, m.s. biological sciences

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