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Friday, April 19, 2013

EPA begs the question again on Asarco. No honest services when split samples are denied.

From: heamc 
To: "Sanchez,Carlos" , "aguavida, "" ,, "rardovino
Cc: "Gray,David" , "Fisher,Charles" , "Phillips,Pam" , "Meyer,John" , "Anderson,Israel"
Subject: RE: El Paso Demolition
Date: Apr 19, 2013 4:41 PM

Dear Mr. Sanchez,
You are begging the question, providing no samples, claiming that "The EPA has released all non-confidential documents associated with past site activities" which is not true ---- the former EPA administrator promised us the open records release of all the invoices listed by number in the 73 page now public EPA U.S. D.O.J. 1998 Asarco confidential for settlement purposes only document.   We never got those invoices listing the illegal radioactive and hazardous wastes.  AND THEY ARE now PUBLIC DOMAIN.  The EPA never told us EVER that Asarco, Engelhard and Dupont were acting as high level radioactive waste disposal contractors.

The top of both stacks clearly has been photographed during demolition releasing massive amounts of soot, which would contain at the least those illegal materials; and definitely sulfur, radioactive lead, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and asbestos/silica. Likely Beryllium. Definitely dioxins.

The EPA HAS taken samples at Corpus Christi (refused to split samples) and here and it is wrong to assure us that everything is "Safe" without being willing to split samples with us.  Especially when there is precedent -- we already are correctly storing official soil samples.  If TCEQ is in charge of samples and not you, then you needed to include the Regional Director in your "cc" or "to" addresses.

We have had wind gusts up to 35 mph all week, low visibility and everyone I have met is complaining about the symptoms.   People with COPD are coughing up very dark dusts, trying to clear their lungs.   Does EPA care?  They never have shown us full cooperation and help EVER here.  The children of Mexico across the smelter are not the only ones affected.   Mexico was smart enough to shut its closest elementary school down one week to thoroughly clean.  THAT DID NOT HAPPEN HERE.  The children still went to school in the dust.  When that happens it is common to see nose bleeds.  Lower Immune systems may occur, given the chemicals common to the illegal hazardous wastes that we know of (nerve agent quench water).  There are entire families with flu this week, now.   coincidence or not

We have the map (on epgtlo) that shows the area marked by our EPA where the Asarco Encycle material was stored when it reached Asarco El Paso.   They were that worried about those illegal hazardous chemicals.  But during the demolition no one seemed worried about that same material exiting the tops and breaks in both stacks and flowing over neighborhoods and our water.  Why?

The demolition of the stacks was not handled well.   The dust should have stayed on site; or the community and the water utilities notified that they'd be exposed. Mr. Puga claimed he had covered the American canal -- he failed to tell me on the telephone that he had not covered ANY of the open canal running right next to the 80 foot wall of Asarco slag (the cloud of dust flowed over the canal, the river into Mexico) but led me to believe he had covered the american canal.  

The demolition could have been delayed until after the spring windy season.  Mr. Puga grew up here.   He knew we had a spring windy season.

AS YOU ARE WELL AWARE AT EPA the Trustee/TRUST is NOT required to test for or clean up any of the hazardous wastes that went through ASARCO that ten years (   They test, tell us everything is fine and refuse to give us key samples that would put all questions to rest -- so did Mr. Charles Fisher and the TCEQ rep. and Mr. Puga refuse to give us a two-inch official sample when we wanted a piece of slag from the Ionics brine distillation unit fire that had removed low level radioactive wastes from the plant's process waters.

You say that the Governor is responsible for handling the issue of the dust that flowed into Mexico.  You failed to mention that the La Paz Accord EPA "JAC" committee chaired by EPA Bill Luthans since the years that Asarco illegally burned hazmat materials (and an Asarco rep. was on the council then, too) and a similar chair from Mexico usually have dealt with such problems, without avail.   Over 3 years ago I presented a Medical Peer review paper on the critical Radon (radium) problem in El Paso TX to the JAC and JAC/EPA did NOTHING.

As I said, my confidence in the EPA is very low given how we have been consistently lied to or omitted key info. from the EPA over eight years.   I have called the White House and the new Admin.' office.  Something has to change.  We in El Paso, our children, deserve better than this.  You know that.  So do all the staff who live here near the Asarco stack; or the EPA staff who work in an office overlooking the site.

Mrs. McMurray, m.s. biology certified science teacher 8-12

-----Original Message-----
From: "Sanchez, Carlos" 
Sent: Apr 17, 2013 2:04 PM
To: heamc , "aguavida , "" , "lorinda.gardner"  
Cc: "Gray, David" , "Fisher, Charles" , "Phillips, Pam" , "Meyer, John" , "Anderson, Israel" 
Subject: RE: El Paso Demolition

Ms. McMurray,

The EPA is not collecting spilt samples at the ASARCO site and therefore cannot provide samples to you.  EPA works through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who has the lead for the oversight of cleanup activities at the site.  Please coordinate with them regarding the collection of spilt samples.

The EPA believes that the stack testing conducted by the Trustee and information included in my previous e-mail, addresses your concerns regarding other contaminants that may be present at the site. The Trustee has conducted extensive testing during all cleanup activities and will continue testing site materials until the cleanup is completed.

The EPA has released all non-confidential documents associated with past site activities.  We are including previous information that was provided to you regarding your concerns on radiation.  We are also including information regarding the Molycorp NORM materials.

The EPA believes that the dust suppression methods being used at the site will address dust from the site.  If dust levels are exceeded, additional measures will be taken.

Regarding the questions submitted by the children of Anapra, New Mexico to the New Mexico Governor, the EPA believes that the Governor’s office should respond to those questions.

Carlos A. Sanchez
Chief, Ark/Tx Section (6SF-RA)
Superfund Division

From: heamc []
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:24 PM
To: Sanchez, Carlos;;; lorinda.gardner,rardovino
Cc: Gray, David; Fisher, Charles; Edlund, Carl; Phillips, Pam; Meyer, John; Anderson, Israel
Subject: Re: El Paso Demolition

Mr. Sanchez,

Will your bosses authorize you to give us an official chain of custody split stack sample(s)?  We have other samples in proper storage, and this is not an idle request.  Although the TCEQ has cooperated, the EPA has refused twice to release split samples to us.

Otherwise I have no confidence in your test results, given the secrecy and lies our community has had to handle and deal with since this began back in 1987.   Our health, environmental governmental agencies, our courts have all failed to protect public health; and, worse of all given the documents we now have we realize the extent of it.  NO ONE in eight years in any FOIA or PIA request let us know that ASARCO had been acting as a High Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Contractor for the U.S. D.O.E. handling sites like Hanford and Oakridge.  In 1998 when the smelter decided to idle the plant, El Paso had the highest Beta radiation levels in the nation according to the EPA.    When I asked BIll Luthans and his health physicist about it, they played word games with me, saying it was normal background radiation and did not tell us about Molycorp and its high levels of NORM going through our plants.  Luthans has been here through the 1990's, serving as chair of the La Paz "JAC" for the USA along with an Asarco executive for many years.   That JAC has not even responded to the critical Radon problem documented in El Paso TX years ago, and presented to the JAC.

Several years ago, Mr. Charles Fisher came here to the Asarco El Paso site and refused (along with the TCEQ rep. and Puga)  to release to me a 2 inch piece of slag from the Ionics Brine Distillation plant' fire that handled all the site's process waters, was installed during the 1990's, and was rated to remove LLRW.  He was not helpful, gave no new information, and maintained the status quo for the EPA.  Meanwhile, Puga was picking other stuff off the ground in buildings and handing it to me to "save".

You know that our wind picks up late afternoon and goes full force at night.  Dust suppression "to control dust generated during the movement of stack concrete materials to the onsite landfill." will be of no help to us.  The dust can be tasted in the air and people need dust masks.  Good rated dust masks.  Handed out for free by our Public Health Dept.  Oops.  We do not have a public health dept. as of 3 years ago.  What shall we do -- ask our government for help?  Ask our medical community?  Ask our community leading citizens? (quote: "this site is perfect for infill"  "is a valuable piece of real estate" "do not worry, the smoke stayed in the valley".

Thank you for writing but your response is hardly reassuring after the eight years I have put into trying to get actual scientific samples and real data from our government.

IF YOU WANT MY CONFIDENCE then release all the invoices listed by invoice number in the 1998 73 page EPA US D.O.J. confidential for settlement purposes only document.  I was promised copies.   I am still waiting, years later.  I wonder why there is such resistance to releasing what is Public Information (once the invoice numbers were released in a public document, they became public information).  Release a full metals analysis like the one on my blog site done by a local citizen on the sludge sent from the Asarco El Paso main circulation pond to the dump in Robstown TX for disposal in 2006.  Answer the questions submitted by the children of Anapra N.M. regarding Asarco El Paso to the N.M. Governor/Ron Curry.

You know that this site, even more than East Helena MT should be a Superfund Site, to be protective of public health and drinking water.

Heather Mcmurray, m.s. biological sciences, certified science teacher

-----Original Message----- 
From: "Sanchez, Carlos"
Sent: Apr 15, 2013 2:39 PM
To: ""
Cc: "Gray, David" , "Fisher, Charles" , "Edlund, Carl" , "Phillips, Pam" , "Meyer, John" , "Anderson, Israel"
Subject: El Paso Demolition

Ms McMurray,
I am sending to you information regarding the testing of the ASARCO stack conducted prior to demolition.  Additional stack testing will be conducted prior to placement of the concrete materials in the onsite cell. Also, dust samples collected during demolition activities will be tested.  As soon as that information is available, we will provide it to you.
During the handling of demolition materials, dust suppression methods, in accordance with the site workplan, will be used to control dust generated during the movement of stack concrete materials to the onsite landfill.  CAS

Carlos A. Sanchez
Chief, Ark/Tx Section (6SF-RA)
Superfund Division

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