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"THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING"
--Burke

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Secret trade agreement delayed, Peru asked to comply with environmental (and other) standards

How will this affect Grupo Mexico, their Southern Peru Copper mine and Asarco's wish to push a re-opening in El Paso by August, next month? Could it be that the Bush Administration (whose Carlyle group owns much of Grupo Mexico) might have to acknowledge what happened here in El Paso and Corpus Christi and clean up -- rather than continuing to make money dumping environmental liabilities on the taxpayers here, and taking away profits?

"Democratic leaders in Congress put off a vote on trade agreements with Peru and Panama until those countries revamp their laws to comply with new labor and environment standards in the accords. The demand is a blow to the Bush administration, which pressed the Democratic majority in Congress to have the Peru agreement approved next month."
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/4933661.html

How will this affect Grupo Mexico, the Southern Peru Copper mine and Asarco's wish to push a re-opening in El Paso by August, next month?

"
"Democratic leaders in Congress put off a vote on trade agreements with Peru and Panama until those countries revamp their laws to comply with new labor and environment standards in the accords. The demand is a blow to the Bush administration, which pressed the Democratic majority in Congress to have the Peru agreement approved next month."

Congress has ordered the EPA to restore its libraries

Victory for Librarians, EPA Library Funding

After considerable pressure by librarians, researchers and the public,

American Library Association
Washington Office Newsline
ALAWON
Volume 16, Number 075
June 29, 2007



Victory for Librarians, EPA Library Funding

After considerable pressure by librarians, researchers and the public, Congress has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore its library network. In the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Interior Appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee orders EPA to reopen the closed libraries. Last year, EPA closed its Headquarters Library in Washington, DC, to visitors and walk-in patrons. EPA also closed several regional libraries, the toxics and pesticides library and the Ft. Meade Environmental Science Center Library.
The language reads

“$2,000,000 shall be used to restore the network of EPA libraries recently closed or consolidated by the administration. While the Committee approves of efforts to make environmental data collections available electronically, the Committee does not agree to further library closures or consolidations without evidence of how the public would be served by these changes. Therefore, the Committee expects the EPA to restore publicly available library facilities in each region. EPA is directed to submit a plan on how it will use this funding increase to reopen facilities and maintain a robust collection of environmental data and resources in each region by December 31, 2007.”

The bill is now headed to the full Senate for consideration. The House-passed FY 2008 Interior Appropriations bill doesn’t contain the EPA library language.
In the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Interior Appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee orders EPA to reopen the closed libraries. Last year, EPA closed its Headquarters Library in Washington, DC, to visitors and walk-in patrons. EPA also closed several regional libraries, the toxics and pesticides library and the Ft. Meade Environmental Science Center Library.
The language reads

“$2,000,000 shall be used to restore the network of EPA libraries recently closed or consolidated by the administration. While the Committee approves of efforts to make environmental data collections available electronically, the Committee does not agree to further library closures or consolidations without evidence of how the public would be served by these changes. Therefore, the Committee expects the EPA to restore publicly available library facilities in each region. EPA is directed to submit a plan on how it will use this funding increase to reopen facilities and maintain a robust collection of environmental data and resources in each region by December 31, 2007.”

The bill is now headed to the full Senate for consideration. The House-passed FY 2008 Interior Appropriations bill doesn’t contain the EPA library language.

Friday, June 29, 2007

May 1999 BHP smelter in AZ idled

BHP Billiton have altered the status of their copper smelting and refining plant at San Manuel,[AZ] USA from care and maintenance to permanent closure. [Used Pierce converters and flash furnace]

The plant has been idle since May 1999 when it entered into care an maintenance mode. Since then they have looked at numerous strategies to bring the plant back online, but none proved economically viable.

The remaining staff will be focus on safety and environmental issues, while the decommissioning and reclamation of the site will be completed over the next 5 to 7 years.

The closure brings to an end 50 years of operation for the San Manuel smelter....

Posted October 27th, 2003
http://www.azom.com/details.asp?newsID=864

"1997: After next year's major rebuild, the San Manuel [BHP] smelter will operate for another 10 years on mini-shutdowns. This strategy will save BHP roughly $200 million over the next 10 years before the next major rebuild, resulting in more cash flow and value for BHPstakeholders.

Craig Steinke is Group General Manager and Senior Vice President of Metals in San Francisco and Pj Cannon, an Assistant Editor for On Cu.
This article is reprinted with permission from the publication,
On CU, April – June, 1997,Vol. 1, No. 3."

Asarco Noose Tightens, But Who Will Hang?

"Asarco Noose Tightens, But Who Will Hang?

by Sito Negron

It’s possible the issue could be decided by August, although because the process already has taken many twists, various elements could slow it down. That includes a potential change on the Commission that will decide the issue. Meanwhile, the TCEQ is reviewing the comments filed June 18.

Posted on June 29, 2007

The Asarco saga will come to a head this summer. Or not. But the noose is tightening …........................................"
[complete story is on page
http://www.newspapertree.com/politics/1504-asarco-noose-tightens-but-who-will-hang]

"But Asarco’s history also is an issue raised by permit opponents. The single largest issue is the question of hazardous waste illegally disposed at Asarco – how much, and what type? That question was raised in an agreed order in 1999, in which Asarco agreed to pay a fine but did not admit to wrongdoing. However, an EPA memo indicated that the agency wanted to take legal action. [Read the background for that story.]

As a result of that order, Asarco agreed to pay the city for paving alleys. [story]

For a primer on the Asarco issue, please see
Asarco Links.

Back to the most recent: Newspaper Tree presents seven documents filed June 18, 2007, outlining the issues now being argued by permit opponents and by Asarco.

Asarco [link]

New Mexico Department of Environmental Quality [link]

Office of Public Interest Counsel [link]

City of El Paso [link]

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh [link]

Sierra Club [link]

Sunset Heights Acorn [link]"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Constellation Copper Corporation to Proceed with

Bankable Feasibility Study on the Terrazas Copper-Zinc

Oxide Project, Chihuahua, Mexico

DENVER, COLORADO--(CCNMatthews - Apr 26, 2004) - Constellation Copper Corporation is pleased to nnounce it will proceed with a bankable feasibility study on the Terrazas copper-zinc oxide open pit heap leach project,[the Phelps Dodge Mining Company, for example, at its Morenci, AZ mine, has completely disassembled its smelter and has converted the mine to a mine-for-leach operation. It takes fewer employees and is more cost effective.] located in Chihuahua, Mexico. Drilling contractors Layne de Mexico S.A. de C.V. and Perforaciones Godbe de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. have been selected for a combined 20,000 meters of RC and core drilling. Drilling will define the mineral resources contained in the 2002 pre-feasibility study completed by Jacobs Engineering Group, provide core samples for additional column leach test work, test open extensions to the current mineral resource, and explore newly acquired ground peripheral to the existing resource. BSi Inspectorate has been selected for the

analytical work.....

http://www.ccnmatthews.com/news/releases/show_print.jsp?action=toolbox&showText=all&actionFor=427099&industry=false

Asarco acted as the Atomic Energy Commission uranium ore-buyer in 1948

"Contracts for Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) procurement of these precipitates were extended in 1948. Furthermore, the AEC initiated plans to put three idle vanadium mills back to work, with production of uranium as their primary purpose. Toward this end, it purchased the plant at Monticello, Utah, in June 1948, from the War Assets Administration. The ore-purchasing agent is the American Smelting & Refining Co. By the end of the year negotiations were nearly complete for rehabilitation and operation of the plants at Durango and Uravan, Cob., by private companies. All five mills were expected to be operating before the end of 1949."

Confirmation of buried barrels of waste at Asarco’s Troy mine comes to the surface

Digging deep

Confirmation of buried barrels of waste at Asarco’s Troy mine comes to the surface

Written by MICHAEL MOORE and MICHAEL JAMISON Photographed by MICHAEL GALLACHER of the Missoulian

TROY – For more than half a year, attorneys for the companies involved in the Troy mine’s past and future have denied an environmental group’s claim that barrels of waste are buried in the mine’s tailings impoundment.

The mining attorneys asked a federal judge in Missoula to dismiss that claim, made in December 2002 in a lawsuit brought by the Cabinet Resource Group, at the most fundamental level – they simply said it never happened.

“Neither the state nor any of the defendants are aware of, nor can they find any evidence of, any such violations,” attorneys for Asarco and the Sterling Mining Co. of Montana wrote in a March brief seeking dismissal of the case.

Then a strange thing happened. Tim Bechtold, one of CRG’s attorneys, filed a notice alerting the company attorneys that he planned to depose Lee McKinney, a former mill manager at the Troy mine.

On Oct. 14, Bechtold had a telephone call from Asarco attorney John Davis, who said the company would now admit that at least some waste had been “deposited” in the 400-acre impoundment, which stores waste rock from the mining process:

“On the basis of information obtained from a former employee of Defendant ASARCO, Mr. Lee McKinney, Defendant ASARCO admits that a quantity of barrels containing flocculant and absorbent material were deposited into the tailings impoundment at the Troy mine in approximately 1988,”

http://www.missoulian.com/specials/troy/troy01.html

Asarco finally admitted to having buried 55 gallon drums of hazardous waste....

"But as to the company’s recent reversal of position – in which Asarco now admits to having buried some barrels – Arrigo said he is “quite surprised.” He said he’s now looking forward to seeing what CRG’s lawsuit and ground work uncovers.

“I’ll be real interested to find out what’s down there,” Arrigo said."

(Asarco Troy mine, 2003)

" Specifically, Meyer said Asarco’s tailings impoundment, which captures waste from the mining operation, was leaking into nearby Lake Creek.

He also said the company bypassed part of its wastewater treatment plant, sending sewage and other waste directly into the tailings impoundment. And, perhaps most surprising, Meyer claimed Asarco was burying 55-gallon drums of hazardous waste in what he termed “midnight burials.”

All of those claims have been disputed by the company, and the matter has recently found its way into federal court. But long before the first motions were filed, some eight years ago, to be exact, Jim Meyer blew his whistle in the Troy woods, expecting state regulators to hear his alarm."


http://www.missoulian.com/specials/troy/troy03.html


Environmental Radiation Data Report 96 (EPA RADNET) October - December 1998




See "environmental radiation data" http://www.epa.gov/narel/radnet/aboutus.html

smooth metal cyclinders being unloaded (by crane-mounted-magnet) from railcar at Asarco El Paso spring 2005

Gamma Scout Readings taken at Smelter Cemetery Asarco - spike is at a grave with uranium-green-tiles

LANL 'blue plume' tritium study done during summer mid 1990's of unnamed source at El Paso TX

Old Postcard photo of El Paso Asarco smelter showing Smeltertown and Rio Grande

Smelter Cemetery next to Asarco El Paso

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A giant burial mound in Ruston holds the ruins of Asarco's copper smelter...

The Herald - Everett, Wash. - www.HeraldNet.com

Published: Sunday, March 19, 2006

Asarco leaving a toxic legacy

By Susan Gordon
The (Tacoma) News Tribune

TACOMA - A giant burial mound in Ruston holds the ruins of Asarco's copper smelter: bricks, mortar and soil so saturated with arsenic and lead that the crypt they are buried in will have to be monitored indefinitely to prevent leaks.

Asarco is poised to sell its waterfront property to a Lacey developer, including the tomb and the responsibility for the hazardous waste in it.

An estimated $45 million in cleanup work remains to be done. But the developer, MC Construction, is expected to assume responsibility only for half, depending on how negotiations with federal regulators go.

Still untouched are as many as 500 contaminated residential yards, adjacent industrial properties and nearby aquatic lands.

The former Fortune 500 company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2005, and might be able to walk away from some of the nation's most vexing and expensive environmental cleanups.

That would burden taxpayers with more than $1 billion in obligations. And some regulators say that estimate is low.

The remaining cleanup in Ruston and Tacoma is just a fraction of Asarco's heritage nationwide. Asarco has told a federal bankruptcy judge that state and federal officials blame the company for contamination at 94 sites in 21 states.

Creditors fighting over the remains of the company could raid a small trust fund established to pay for cleaning up some of the worst pollution problems, officials said. But because trust fund distributions are prioritized based on human health risks, cleanup efforts in the Pacific Northwest could take a back seat to such places as:

* Omaha, Neb., home of the largest residential lead cleanup in the United States.

* El Paso, Texas, where contamination from a mothballed smelter and its 800-foot smokestack extends into Mexico and New Mexico.
see:
http://heraldnet.com/stories/06/03/19/100loc_a1asarco001.cfm

Monday, June 25, 2007

Guess What? Something that ASARCO didn't tell you

Unbeknownst to many in El Paso and the State of Texas, The El Paso Independent School District (EPISD), currently has pending litigation against ASARCO “In The United States Bankruptcy Court For The Southern District Of Texas, Corpus Christi Division,” Case No. 05-21207, Chapter 11. This to be “Jointly Administered” hearing is set for August 6-10, 2007 at 10:00am.
 The creditor in the case (EPISD) claims that the debtor, (ASARCO) American Smelting and Refining Company LLC, et al., is liable for the claim amount of $5,685,169.39 for the “Removal and Disposal of Contaminated Soil at 4 EPISD Schools [which were] tested and shown to have elevated lead and arsenic in the December 2001 report, Removal Assessment Report for El Paso County Metals, El Paso County, Texas, by Roy Weston, Inc.”[1]
The creditor (EPISD) claims that the debtor (ASARCO) “has known, or through the exercise of reasonable care should have known at all relevant times that pollutants have been escaping from its facility, exposing [EPISD] to a foreseeable risk of harm, but have failed to warn [EPISD] of the hazards caused by such pollution…”[2]
EPISD claims that “ASARCO “has at all relevant time owed the [EPISD] a duty to implement in a timely manner all reasonable measures to eliminate harmful and unpleasant pollutants from emissions that enter the areas where the [EPISD] owns property and schools; d) eliminate all unreasonable risks to property and schools owned by [EPISD] posed by the operation of the plant…”[3]
EPISD claims, “ASARCO has exposed [EPISD] to harmful pollution through reckless and wanton disregard for the consequences to [EPISD] and others similarly situated.”[4]  The latter being made up of student and neighborhood constituents.
EPISD claims “[e]missions from [Debtor] ASARCO’s facilities have periodically exposed properties and schools owned by [EPISD] to levels of pollutants that have interfered with the quiet enjoyment of its private property interests and with its enjoyment of public properties in affected areas.”[5]
EPISD claims that “ASARCO has caused noxious and potentially harmful fumes, particles, vapors and smoke to enter onto properties in which [EPISD] has an interest…The entry of pollution caused by [Debtor] ASARCO onto [EPISD] properties continues and will continue to harm [EPISD] unless abated by injunctive and declaratory relief.”[6]
Although the particulars are extensive, the issue is not as complex as it may seem. The EPISD and a group of affected parties filed a civil suit in El Paso County Court At Law Number Seven (Cause No. 2001-2478); When ASARCO filed for Chapter 11 status in 2005, EPISD, in pursuance of the cleanup costs incurred by the citizenry of El Paso, subsequently filed the claim for damages (Case No. 05-21207).
As we have seen, ASARCO’s emissions of lead and arsenic have been detrimental to El Paso, and have caused significant danger to our public schools and their students therein. The pending case against ASARCO in bankruptcy court stems from the likelihood that they were negligent while operating in El Paso and that air quality subsequently has detrimental effects upon school property, including putting students at further undue risk than should have been allowed.
EPISD is concerned about the health and welfare of its student populations and is obligated by law to provide an education in a safe and secure environment. Exposing our children to the emissions from the operations of ASARCO undermines the principles of goodwill and faith in mankind. 
It is in this and other pertinent factors that the people of El Paso petition the TCEQ not to issue Air Permit No. 20345. 
Respectfully,  
Scott Comar


[1] U.S. Bankruptcy Court, The Southern District Of Texas Corpus Christi Division: El Paso Independent School District’s Update Of Claim Amount And Designation Of Experts And Witnesses And Designation Of Documents Supporting Export Reports And Exhibits For Hearing Relating To Docket No. 3675 Estimation of ASARCO LLC’s Environmental Liabilities, 24 May 2007 ( Case 05-21207, Document 4803), p. 1.   
[2] El Paso County Court At Law Number Seven, El Paso County, Texas, Plaintiff Intervener El Paso Independent School District’s Original Petition, Plea In Intervention And Jury Demand, EPISD et al.  v. ASARCO, Cause No. 2001-2478, Filed in TXSB on 24 May 2007 (Case 05-21207, Document 4803-3), p. 5.
[3] Ibid. p. 5.
[4] Ibid. p. 7.
[5] Ibid. p. 7.
[6] Ibid. p. 8.
  

Sick 'Em, City of El Paso!: Going After Asarco,,by Chris Cummings

Posted on June 21, 2007

If (a big “IF”) anyone could remediate the wasteland around the Asarco plant one day (see Asarco bankruptcy and the multi-millions they already owe to dozens of states around the country), or even today, what role will Asarco play in the clean up? They’ll leave a tip on the table and say ‘Thanks, we had a nice meal here for a hundred years, but we are finished.’ They won’t ask for the tab. They will dine and dash. But as a courtesy, as a nod to the working men and women (whom they will one day employ…and abandon), whom they now have working for them, spinning the benefits of the reopening because their union has worked out a deal (see United Steel Workers [USW] Union’s full page ad(s) in the El Paso Times over the past few months), for you my friends, they will eventually leave unemployment and heartache (I’m not even going to get into the health consequences.)..........
http://newspapertree.com/opinion/1490-sick-em-city-of-el-paso-going-after-asarco


Asarco Rubber Lake breaking on 9/4/06 pouring 200,000 gallons of concentrated poisons and storm-water into the old american canal. The canal is our drinking water- it is pulled into a 48" pipe into the Canal St. Water Treatment plant and then the plant pumps the water up the mountain to distribute it throughout El Paso.

Letter to the Editor, El Paso Inc. sent 2/12/07 to Editor and EPWU Attorney Andron

Thank you for the article and photo about the repair of the old upper American canal's broken panel, showing the Jobe Concrete truck pouring cement for the new panel, near the American Dam (established by International Treaty for the delivery of waters to Mexico and the USA). http://www.elpasoinc.com/showArticle.asp?articleId=971

We know from the IBWC's reports that 24 million dollars worth of hazardous waste is in the soil beneath those panels right there. Some of it is odorless and tasteless. We know from the EPWU's water reports above and below that buckled-panel that it is leaking into that water still flowing past the feet of those men, who are now exposed to it. Those men are not wearing masks, most are not wearing gloves -- no one is wearing white environmental suits. Some of those men will wash their clothes at home or in commercial laundromats, and family members (maybe pregnant wives or growing kids) will handle the contaminated clothing.
We know that between mid-March and mid-October that El Paso will get its drinking water from this canal; and, that contamination still leaks
through the old-joints and the weep-holes into the canal where ground-water touches the liner. The contamination will pass along over 70 miles of agricultural irrigation canal. The farmland below Asarco has been called an "arsenic time-bomb" in at least one research paper.

Our community knows that Asarco burned illegal hazardous waste for nearly a decade just a stone's throw away from this liner. Smeltertown, in the background of this photo on the EP Inc., had 18 inches of soil removed nearly 40 years ago, for just the Pb (lead) content alone.

The panels in that old canal were made over 70 years ago of 3 inches of concrete laid over re-bar, just like in that photo - and layered in two directions. They should be made of 4 inches of reinforced concrete. This is a patch-job it appears, and the rest of the 3 miles and 400 or so panels are still in danger of failing. The panels' failure was predicted years ago.

The State Department in spring of '05 reviewed the various IBWC sites and said that the employees at American Dam next to old-smeltertown were sick, and that they were not getting independent medical review from this region.
How long will our regulatory agencies responsible for our well-being continue to conceal its conflicts of interests from this community and pass along the responsibilities to the next generation--- "pass-the-buck", in cancers, lead exposure, arsenic trioxides and actinide exposures?

Heather McMurray
El Paso, TX

Radioactive metal smelting plant

Metal smelting plant was taken at its word

Although Sosnovy Bor authorities have withdrawn a suit banning the import of radioactive metal waste into the town, Ekomet-S, the importer of that waste, has agreed on its own to cease such imports for the time being, though the company says it doesn't want to hold off forever. Rashid Alimov, 22/07-2002

On July 31st, St Petersburg's Court of Arbitration will be again considering the suit filed by the authorities of Sosnovy Bor against Ekomet-S.

At the previous arbitration session, which was the second, Sosnovy Bor authorities withdrew one of their suits.

Ekomet-S
The radioactive metal smelting plant Ekomet-S is situated on the premises of the Leningrad Nuclear Power plant (LAES), only few hundred meters away from the shore of the Baltic Sea shore and four kilometres from Sosnovy Bor's 60,000 inhabitants. The closed nuclear town itself is located 80km from St Petersburg.

The plant was built secretly and without an environmental impact study, which is required by Russian legislation.

The facility, which is devoted to the smelting and decontamination of radioactive metals for resale on the open market, was built by the Ministry for Nuclear Energy — the notorious Minatom — and fissile fuel monopolists hoping to cash in on the smelting of radioactive metal waste from nuclear power plants across Russia. Gazprom-bank invested $10m in the project.

The very fact that a private plant is located at the territory of the state-run LAES may be considered a violation of the current legislation. In late 2001, a group of LAES security guards published an open letter in which they claimed that since the opening of the smelting plant, they had been exposed to radiation. Their contracts, they noted, had not stipulated they would be working in conditions that exposed them to radiation hazards.............
http://www.bellona.org/english_import_area/international/russia/npps/leningrad/24950