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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harbinger Capital Group, Asarco, and the still-secret wastes illegally burned in El Paso TX and E. Helena MT

“The general unsecured creditors who would be paid in full include bondholders Harbinger Capital Partners Master Fund I Ltd. and government agencies charged with cleaning up pollution at Asarco’s mining sites. They have supported Sterlite’s previous plans The case is In re Asarco LLC, 05-21207, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas (Corpus Christi)."

Soon after the NYTimes released the 1998-confidential-for-settlement-purposes-only-document from the EPA to the Federal DOJ about ASARCO in 2006, Harbinger threw 500 million dollars at the NYTimes in an effort to take over its Board of Directors.   Harbinger failed, and lost 75% of that money.    The richest man in Mexico then gave the NYTimes a loan (Carlos Slim).  The people who released that document have suffered non-renewal, firings, eviction and more.

The document details how ASARCO handled and burned unmanifested and secret toxic-wastes for profit for nearly a decade in the 1990's.   Rep. Reyes (Chair of the House Intelligence Committee) later commented that ASARCO had paid millions on the condition that the details of what it had done would NEVER become public. 

Now the secret was out.   But Asarco, the court, the EPA, the DOJ, the TCEQ and the NMED then proceeded to act as if the document was still confidential, and that the illegal incineration of only-god-knows-what never happened.  They proceeded to keep the details from the public.

They are still acting this way.

But the document is PUBLIC, and we know that the EPA told the DOJ that Asarco had burned unmanifested wastes for years, for profit.  

How long do these conflicted officials and Asarco believe that they can continue to keep this "secret" secret?  They sent materials from Rocky Flats Plutonium site to El Paso for disposal, the grapevine to the EPA in CO tells us.   We know that they sent Rocky Mt. arsenal and Tooele UT wastes here.   We also know that the EPA reported that the Beta-Radiation levels in El Paso TX just before ASARCO shut down were the highest in the United States of America.  Just three months before that, the Texas Environmental Quality group suddenly decided to 'throw in the towel' and not establish a nuclear dump 100 miles from El Paso TX at Sierra Blanca Texas...  what were they afraid of?  Media/press attention to local nuclear and radiation issues was international at that time -- and had the media found out that ASARCO had released radiative material through its stacks the community outrage would have been intense.

What on God's earth did they expose us to, here?   Rare cancers appear rampant here - especially those of the brain, the throat and nasal cavity.  Children born to women who lived along the river in the 1990's had horrible teratogenic birth defects.   It is common to know a young mother with a child whose skull is completely fused.  Even the Federal State Dept. in 3/2005 said that Federal Workers next to the Asarco stack at the IBWC American dam site were sick, it was not their imagination and that they could not get independent medical review in the entire region.

The International La Paz Accord Joint Advisory Committee agreed in a resolution a year ago that chemical-background testing needs done.  Nothing has happened despite this group being chaired by the EPA.

Meanwhile we live next to the smelter, we remain sick, and after five years of research we are no closer to the facts and the truth of what dioxin, pcb, polonium, mercury and metals-isotopes are out there around the site than we were before.  The TCEQ and ASARCO recently *refused* to share split-samples with a long-standing and respected community group.

It is appalling and this Mexican-American Community deserves better.  When will our nation's top officials take honest action to help this community and to ensure honest oversight of the Asarco bankruptcy through its DOJ trustee??

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