Work on former Asarco site to be finished in 2016

Site trustee says UTEP may purchase land

Julio-Cesar Chavez | kvia

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Asarco update

EL PASO, Texas – It’s been three years since the iconic Asarco towers were demolished, and cleanup work on the site is nearly finished.

Asarco Trustee Roberto Puga updated community members Thursday, letting them know how far long the project was and what was missing.

“We are ready, getting very close to completion. We are targeting to be done with all our remediation this year,” Puga said.

Once it’s finished, it’ll only be a matter of months before people start seeing more than just flat land as they drive by. Once the cleaning and clearing of the Asarco site are finished the land still needs to be used, and it’s looking like the likely buyer is UTEP.

“We are negotiating with the university, with the folks in the University of Texas system, and we hope to get those negotiations completed this year,” said Puga.

And it’s all done within the budget, just not the original $52 million budget, something Puga said would not have been enough.

“Because it was a copper smelter we were able to harvest copper, gold, and silver, and that raised our budget to $82 million,” he explained.

Money he says has helped the project allow for better redevelopment of the land, not just cleaning the area.

“Without it, the type of reuse that is possible now would not be possible, and I think the future of the site would not be as bright,” Puga said.

“That land has a lot of potential and it always had a lot of potential since it’s inception. I think this is going to be nice for El Paso,” said Jorge Villalobos, who had worked with Asarco for 28 years.