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ASARCO Trustee: Environmental Impact Statement Not Required

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Mar 25 2013 08:56:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 09 2013 04:43:20 PM CDT

Some groups want more testing of the Asarco smokestacks before the demolition.

EL PASO, Texas -

The ASARCO site trustee said an Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, is not required before the demolition of the smokestacks. An EIS would evaluate alternatives to the demolition plus the environmental and social consequences of the demolition. An E-I-S is required when there's any sort of new construction planned by the government, not for site remediation - which is what's happening at the ASARCO site, said Trustee Roberto Puga.

It's also not required because the trust is neither a federal or state agency, Puga added. Groups like El Paso A.W.A.R.E. have been asking for the very specific kind of test at the ASARCO site before the stacks are demolished.

Puga said they've been taking samples and tests of the site since 2010 and the samples were tested for metals, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds. The trust has posted the results online. You can see them on the 'links mentioned' section on the homepage of kvia.com.

Ex-ASARCO workers said the trust needs to check for chemicals that the smelter clandestinely handled. "EPA documentation tells us that in 1992 they (ASARCO) started incinerating napalm gas, radioactive stuff, agent orange, sarin gas, all kinds of pesticides and he's not testing for those pesticides," said Carlos Rodriguez, who worked at ASARCO for more than 30 years and is now spearheading El Paso A.W.A.R.E.

Rodriguez and other workers are not convinced the testing the Trust has conducted is sufficient. They believe the trust is not doing enough testing for chemicals ASARCO did not have a permit for.  "We were at ground zero. We know what happened there."

Puga said the trust has not found traces of those chemicals. "That's just incorrect. We looked at the information put out by the EPA and we're just not finding evidence for chemical warfare or radioactive materials here."

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