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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Radioactive waste from old nuclear weapons is being sent to domestic landfill sites across the USA, the country's Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) has revealed.
In a new report, the NIRS traced the legal and technical routes that have allowed the Department of Energy to dump radioactive, plastic and chemical waste into unsuitable landfills.
The authors found that the Department was auctioning waste to 'processors', who are then free to ignore radioactive handling requirements and treat the waste as domestic rubbish".
The Ecologist Mag. pp. 10-11 July/Aug. 07
Monday, August 27, 2007
The response says that the chemical analyses for the 1996 zinc stack demolition project were made and therefore do exist. Your own reply says that you are responsible and permitted under the law to find existing information. SO, WHERE ARE THE ANALYSES/DATA? The reply from the TCEQ that they can't locate "the specific analyses" is not answering my request and the excuse that it is too difficult to look is pathetic when this zinc stack demolition occurred under a 1996 agreed order (SEP).
We have authenticated written evidence that both the TCEQ and EPA are hiding metals-contamination from Asarco found both in El Paso and Corpus Christ (attached). The TCEQ repeatedly fails to provide any full-analyses (total metal analyses - SIC), any stack samples, any raw data (spectrometer analyses), any location of physical core samples, the analyses of the ENCYCLE loads that the EPA made for the consent decree --- ALL ARE MISSING. This belies all valid scientific laboratory and scientific-academic procedures where such data must be kept on record for legal challenges to patents, for report-interpretations, etc.
This begins to be a tiresome wearisome pattern and in this particular case of the stack demolition, when your own reports describes the analyses of the stack walls -- and this lack of data falls appallingly short. I am copying an OAG contact because I feel that this pattern shows a circumvention of the Open Records Law: the TCEQ does not have to give out the records if they fail to keep the data on file.
Repeatedly the TCEQ insists that there is no evidence of many toxic-wastes (e.g. radioactive material) because they fail to find the reports just mentioned. We do understand that the evidence is MISSING --- the TCEQ is guardian of this data, and as such has failed its responsibility to safeguard the public health.
The TCEQ begs the question that they know all the wastes that contaminated us, without the proper evidence -- does the TCEQ think that El Pasoans are ignorant and dumb? The TCEQ even shows a disregard for the public here by failing to hold the Asarco Air Permit #20345 renewal hearing here, in El Paso (the City has offered to cover the TCEQ's expenses incurred holding the meeting here and not in Austin, TX).
It is becoming increasing clear that there is a huge span of missing samples and full-analyses that would, if provided, let this region know what toxins rained down on us from Asarco El Paso.
I received your summary 7/23/07 of our telephone conversation but did not receive a reply to the concerns listed in that summary.
Court filing says former directors pillaged it
LES BLUMENTHAL; The News Tribune
Last updated: August 27th, 2007 01:23 AM (PDT)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The heads of one of Mexico's wealthiest families and
other former executives of Asarco "systematically liquidated" its most
valuable assets, leaving the mining and smelting company in bankruptcy
and facing billions of dollars in environmental and asbestos-related
claims, according to a new court filing.
The complaint, filed by a group of Asarco's creditors, seeks at least
$100 million in damages from German Larrea Mota-Velasco and his brother,
Genaro Larrea Mota-Velasco, along with seven other former directors and
officers of Asarco. At the same time they were running Asarco, the
Larreas and others held similar positions with Asarco's parent company,
Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V.
"Almost from the beginning, the actions by the directors and officers
demonstrated that their loyalties were to Grupo Mexico … resulting in
devastating financial loses to Asarco," according to the complaint.
Officials at Grupo Mexico did not return phone calls or an e-mail
Among the allegations are that the nine named in the complaint
engineered the 2002 sale of Asarco's majority interest in two highly
coveted Peruvian copper mines to another of Grupo Mexico's subsidiaries
in a "sweetheart deal" worth about $765 million. By some estimates, the
mines then were worth more than $1 billion. Today, as the price of
copper has soared, they could be worth $7 billion to $8 billion.
Washington state, which has filed $600 million worth of environmental
claims against Asarco, did not join in the complaint. But the state
could benefit if the mines were returned to Asarco and the company had
more cash to pay off claims.
"This case keeps getting layers added to layers," said Elliott Furst, a
senior counsel in the Washington Attorney General's Ecology Division. He
said the state was too focused on proving its environmental claims to
join in the case against Grupo Mexico and Asarco's former directors and
For more than 100 years, Asarco operated a copper smelter on the border
of Tacoma and Ruston. The state claims arsenic, lead and other toxic
substances emitted from the smelter contaminated more than 1,000 square
miles in Pierce, Thurston and King counties.
The smelter, closed in 1985, has been demolished, the site mostly
cleaned and sold to a developer. The state, however, insists that water,
air and soil were contaminated in the tri-county area. It will have to
defend its claim in late September in the Texas bankruptcy court hearing
Washington state's claim is the second-largest filed. Overall, nearly
$11 billion worth of environmental claims have been filed by 16 states,
two Indian tribes, the federal government and private parties. If Asarco
is unable to pay for the environmental cleanups at more than 75 sites
nationwide, federal and state taxpayers might have to foot the bill.
In addition, 95,000 asbestos-related claims have been filed against
Asarco, up to $2.7 billion.
Grupo Mexico, which bought Asarco in 1999, is the third-largest copper
producer in the world. The Larrea family is considered part of Mexico's
"fantasticos," the 100 or so superrich families in that country who are
socially, politically and economically connected.
Though he wasn't named directly, the complaint suggests that another of
Mexico's superrich, Carlos Slim, might have benefited from the sale of
the Peruvian mines.
Slim, who made much of his fortune in the telecom industry, might have
recently surpassed Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the richest man in
The complaint quotes Genaro Larrea as saying Slim, a "close associate"
of Grupo Mexico's principals, and his Mexican bank had bought $100
million of Asarco bonds at a deep discount. As part of the proceeds from
the mine sale, those bonds were paid off at face value, according to the
Suing the directors and officers of a company that has sought bankruptcy
protection is not unusual.
"It is not uncommon to bring an action against officers and directors of
a bankrupt company for breaching their fiduciary responsibilities," said
Leif Clark, a University of Texas law professor and a federal bankruptcy
judge. But in the Asarco case, Clark said, it might become complicated
because those named in the complaint are residents of Mexico.
According to the complaint, the former Asarco officials not only
stripped the company of its interest in the Peruvian mines, but also
neglected Asarco's core mining business, sold lands with confirmed
copper reserves at raw land prices and cashed in insurance policies that
covered potential environmental and asbestos-related liabilities to fund
The nine directors and company officials resigned after the Peruvian
mines were sold to Americas Mining Corp., a Grupo subsidiary.
Asarco is now being run by directors approved by the bankruptcy judge.
The complaint was filed in the bankruptcy court earlier this month. The
case is scheduled for trial next spring.
Even as the legal battles unfold, Furst said some banks and other
financial institutions have approached Washington state and other
claimants in the bankruptcy about buying their claims at a discount.
The banks, believing the demand for copper worldwide will continue to
grow, hope the claims they buy at a discount might eventually be worth
more or, as Asarco emerges from bankruptcy, they could receive stock in
"There is a lot of speculation Asarco could be worth more than people
think," Furst said. As for Washington state selling its claims, Furst
said that "it might make sense to do it at some point."
Les Blumenthal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published: August 27th, 2007 01:23 AM (PDT)
1950 South State Street, Tacoma, Washington 98405 253-597-8742
© Copyright 2007 Tacoma News, Inc. A subsidiary of The McClatchy Company
Sunday, August 26, 2007
|Asarco supporters, opponents await new TCEQ nomination|
|By Brandi Grissom / El Paso Times |
El Paso Times
|AUSTIN -- Asarco friends and foes in El Paso are watching closely as Gov. Rick Perry prepares to make an appointment that could determine whether the copper smelter gets a green light to restart operations. |
Perry will choose someone to replace Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Kathleen Hartnett White whose term expires at the end of August.
Those who support Asarco hope the new commissioner will weigh the economic impact the smelter could have in El Paso. Opponents want someone who will consider environmental concerns about Asarco's operations above all others.
"The governor is going to put someone on the board who recognizes that they have to hear the concerns of the local communities and balance that against the overall needs of our state," said Perry spokesman Robert Black.
Asarco's smokestack on the edge of the city stopped working in 1999 when the price of copper tanked.
With prices of the metal rising again in 2002, Asarco sought to renew its air quality permit with TCEQ, which would allow smelting to restart.
More than five years later, the commission, which has never before denied such a permit, has still not decided whether to grant Asarco's request.
At each step in the permitting process, El Pasoans and others in the region who oppose Asarco's reopening have been contesting the company's request.
The vacant spot on the commission could delay a decision on Asarco's permit even further.
TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said the three-person commission can take votes with only two members present, but a split vote would result in postponement of the issue until a third commissioner was available.
Mayors and other elected officials from El Paso, New Mexico and Juárez, have called on TCEQ to deny the permit.
They argue the company has a history of polluting the ground and air and of sickening area residents.
"We're looking for somebody at TCEQ who has the health and safety of the people of Texas foremost in their mind and particularly here in El Paso," said Jim Kelly, spokesman for Get the Lead Out Coalition.
Kelly said he doesn't mind if the appointment of a new commissioner further delays a decision on Asarco's permit.
"Right now, they are not authorized to operate, and I like that," he said. "I like the fresh, clean air we have now."
Lairy Johnson, environmental manager at Asarco's El Paso plant, said the company could work with whomever Perry appoints. The company has contended its operations are clean and meet state environmental standards.
"We have confidence in the process," he said.
Jimmy Dominguez, a former Asarco employee anxious to see the plant open again so he can get his job back, said he would like to see a new commissioner appointed and a decision made soon.
"For me, it is kind of gut-wrenching to wait and just wait, but there's nothing we can do," he said.
Dominguez said Asarco's opponents exaggerate negative effects of the smelter's pollution. His father and uncles, he said, worked in the plant for years and remain healthy.
Along with other Asarco backers, Dominguez points to the high-paying jobs the company would provide.
A study by the Institute for Policy and Economic Development at the University of Texas at El Paso released in April estimated reopening Asarco would generate more than $1 billion in the local economy and create about 1,800 new jobs.
"We just want to go back to work and live a life I had that opportunity to live," said Dominguez, who now works at a state prison making less than he did at Asarco. "I was making really good money; my kids, my wife were well taken care of."
Perry spokesman Black said the governor has not yet decided whom he will appoint to the board. Perry would rather get it done right than get it done quickly, he said.
But he said Perry would want a commissioner who could balance environmental responsibility with the state's economic needs and growing energy requirements.
"The governor does not believe TCEQ should be an agency that is anti-industry, but by the same token, it cannot cater to the industry," Black said.
Buddy Garcia, whom Perry appointed to the commission earlier this year and made chairman this week, said he could not comment specifically on the Asarco permit or when the board might vote on it.
He said, though, that assuring the public that the commission is working to protect the environment is one of the agency's biggest challenges.
"This is a trust issue for me," Garcia said, "and it's all about balance."
Brandi Grissom may be reached at email@example.com; (512) 479-6606.
(Asarco El Paso emitted Arsenic)
I look at the children whom I know, or the students I taught -- many sick. They can't pick up and move away. They can't work full-time and live their lives yet. They are children, and have their lives to live.
We can face it and gradually remove the poisons that economically will enslave them; or we can chose not to: that is our choice. And whichever choice we take requires a sacrifice.
"Merciful Father, I have squandered my days with plans of many things. This was not among them.....
For all we ought to have thought and have not thought;
All we ought to have said and have not said;
All we ought to have done and have not done:
I pray thee, God, for forgiveness.
—Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, in the film The 13th Warrior (1999)"
2007 Proposed Revisions to Ground-Level Ozone Standards
How to Comment
* EPA will accept public comments until October 9, 2007.
* Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0172
and submitted by one of the following methods:
o Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov); o
o Mail (EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail
code 6102T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460);
o Hand delivery (EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection
Agency, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington,