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Latest report on ASARCO site details higher-than-normal levels of mercury, arsenic and lead

By Pilar Arias, pilar.arias@kvia.com
Published On: Dec 30 2013 07:27:41 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 08:23:50 PM CST

Concerning levels of mercury, arsenic and lead have been found in a recent in arsenic and lead have been found in a recent investigation released by the Texas custodial Trust, about the old Asarco site. ABC-7'S Pilar Arias spoke with people who live in the Calavera neighborhood.

EL PASO, Texas -

Higher-than-normal levels of mercury, arsenic and lead have been found in a recent investigation released by the Texas Custodial Trust about the old ASARCO site.

Property where the lead and copper smelter once stood were tested for contaminants.

The 79-page Supplemental Remedial Investigation released in November details soil screenings that were completed in 10 areas from 2011 to 2012. One of the areas was close to the Calavera neighborhood near Paisano and Executive Center.

James Johnson has lived on San Marcos street in the Calavera neighborhood nearly his entire life.

"When I was young growing up and we went to school across from the shelter we used to taste the sulphur but that was a lot of years ago," Johnson said.

Calavera borders ASARCO property, where a lead and copper smelter once operated for many years.

"If there's poison or no poison I mean let it be ... I'm still here," resident Tammy Galban said. "This place has been very peaceful, very sacred to all of us."

The findings have neighbors in the normally quiet neighborhood talking. Johnson says it's not the first time the concern for dangerous toxins has been studied ... but he wants to know more.

"The findings is one thing. As to results as to what can happen long term that's another thing," Johnson said.

The investigation revealed surface soils up to six inches were affected.

"They're talking about remediation. I think that's going to have something to do with removing the soil and bringing in new soil," Johnson said but he added that the Environmental Protection Agency has replaced soil before so he doesn't understand what else can be done.

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