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Friday, October 1, 2010

Testing at Asarco [El Paso] : Has XRF been used and if not, why [and what about RADON]

Mr. Puga:

Current research by M.D.'s (2009) show significant radon contamination throughout El Paso - heavily associated with the dirt outside of homes, and they recommend clean-up.  The levels are very significant.  It is very interesting that you state "El Paso County has low radon potential" when the medical doctors are finding radon to be a huge problem here. 

We already know from the EPA that El Paso TX had the highest Beta Radiation levels in the nation just before Asarco El Paso shut down in 2/99.  Mr. Bill Luthans asserted that this was "naturally occurring radiation" (or "NORM"/"TENORM") and said it was not a problem - but could not provide data to back-up his statement that the radiation was not a problem.

You are incorrect to state that "Radon gas, which is a naturally occurring substance, is not measured using XRF methods".   Radon is an element that appears from radium decay, and can be detected with many different methods.  It is radioactive and hazardous to our health.  

You did not provide any links or documents showing any XRF data from ASARCO.  In fact, Asarco El Paso refused to allow XRF technology to be tested on-site) to determine what chemicals have been left here by the nearly ten years of illegal, untracked, incineration of both military and industrial wastes for profit by Asarco El Paso.  

I would like to know why Project Navigator continues to dodge the question of the illegal chemical residues at the site.  I would like Project Navigator to provide data showing the radon, radium and radio-isotope levels at the site. 

EPA has provided proof now that ASARCO handled radioactive materials.

I would like to know who Mary Koks is (you copied her on your reply) at <>; and, why you felt it necessary to also copy the TCEQ attorney, Caroline Sweeney on your reply.  Are Radon and NORM/TENORM at ASARCO something that Project Navigator is afraid to discuss with the public?

Details about what chemicals have been left here by the nearly ten years of illegal, untracked, incineration of both military and industrial wastes for profit by Asarco El Paso continue to be kept secret; but, such secrecy/gag is likely illegal now that the Federal Dept. of Justice made the confidential-for-settlement-purposes-only EPA-DOJ-Asarco agreement public domain.   

Project Navigator should honor the intent of this public-domain-release of information; and, also the La Paz Accord JAC committee International Recommendation (to measure background contamination levels).   To continue to withhold full disclosure from the public about the poisons remaining around this site is ethically and morally wrong; potentially places the elderly, the young, the unborn and the ill in grave dangers that could be averted; and potentially puts Project Navigator in the sad role of making profits in a fake clean-up at the expense of our future generations.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Testing at Asarco: Has XRF been used and if not, why
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010
From: Roberto Puga <rpuga(at)>

Hello  ---,


Thank you again for your continuing interest in this project.  We offer the following responses to your questions:


  1. Laboratory-type X-ray fluorescence (XRF) methods were employed in the past by Asarco to measure metal concentrations in soils and slag. Any results relating to X-ray and other analysis reported to the various regulatory agencies are documented in the remedial investigation reports produced for the site. These reports are available in the public record from the TCEQ and on the Trust website. 
  2. Remedial contractors typically employ portable XRF screening tools for qualitative measurements during remediation of metal impacted sites.  The approved use of any analytical tools which may include XRF screening tools will be outlined in the appropriate work plans and procedures which will be posted on the Trust website.
  3. Radon gas, which is a naturally occurring substance, is not measured using XRF methods, and in any case is not a constituent of concern at the site.  According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, El Paso County has low radon potential.  Outside ventilated, above-grade commercial buildings, which includes the plant office, (the only occupied building on the site) are generally not surveyed for radon.  Since radon is not a constituent of concern and there is no indication of radon sources there is not a concern for radon accumulation.  Testing requirements for constituents in stormwater runoff are detailed in the site discharge permit, which does not include radon.
  4. The Trust has been extraordinarily transparent in all of its activities, and has posted requested information on its web-site.  The Trust will continue its policy as it completes its mission for the site.
  5. We advise every one of the potential hazards at the site, and our Health and Safety program mandates training, personnel protection and monitoring for workers that may come in contact with constituents of concern.




Roberto Puga



Sent: Saturday, September 18, 2010
To: Roberto Puga; Elizabeth Schell
Subject: Testing at Asarco: Has XRF been used and if not, why


To:  Project Navigator
Fr:  ---
sb:  XRF technology

Has XRF technology been used to test at the ASARCO El Paso site, and if not, then why not?

If XRF technology has been used then please advise us to the results of that testing.

XRF can detect Radon (element #86).  It is radioactive and is a known health hazard.  What were the results for Radon within the buildings and for the run-off/effluent water from ASARCO?

Do I need to force further disclosure through a P.I.A. or FOIA?
  Please let me know.

Please also advise your potential contractors about the years of illegal toxic-waste burnings at Asarco; and, also advise any potential Project Navigator-UTEP interns of child-bearing-age of these chemicals.

- ---

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