Friday, March 7, 2014

Letter to Honorable Rep. O'Rourke, U.S. House of Representatives about Asarco, US DOE wastes, and plans to build elementary school on the old lead(Pb) dump

Statement made 2/21/2014 at 3PM EST for Honorable Rep. O’Rourke’s Attention

Masters in Science 
Fully endorsed by Nobel team winner Dr. Devra Davis, author of “Secret history of Cancer”
Attended Rachel Carson's College – she wrote "Silent Spring" a key book  about the dangers of both toxic chemicals and radiation
Trained under the last PHD student for Nobel Medical Prize Winner Dr. Niko Tinbergen
Fully certified designated highly qualified Science teacher grades 8-12, also, certified to teach gifted students (UTEP, 2010)
Bachelors of Science at the Ohio State University 
Endorsed by Father of semiotics, Dr. Thomas Sebeok (on file OSU), who participated in WA D.C. panel on how to label nuclear waste sites to warn off future generations

It has come to my attention that development is planned for a 200+ acres of land on the other side of TX Interstate I-10, part of the original Asarco properties a stone’s throw away from the site of the Asarco stacks. The plans for this site are to create family homes. Under smart code development requirements they are required to build an elementary school and playground. We know per Dr. Goodell (UTEP) statement to Channel 7 KVIA that paving the Asarco site will not make the area safe for people. We know that slag gives off gases (called "off-gassing") for nearly 100 years. Some of these gases are toxic (I.e Arsenic) and cannot be smelled or tasted. We know from the Mesita School Health Study (Peer reviewed) that children growing up attending that school close to the Asarco site have a greater chance in their lifetime of getting MS. 

• Honorable Rep. Beto O’Rourke has a greater chance of getting MS from attending the Mesita School.

• Males who have MS have greater chance of passing MS to their children. 

• According to smart code Dover Kohl diagram an elementary school will be placed on top of Asarco old lead dump, which is quite large. The grading permits are in place. 

• This lead dump was created during the 1940s and 1950s and has remained undisturbed throughout the cleanup. 

• During the 1940s the UTEP (formerly College of mines, next to Asarco site) grads were at the center of the largest uranium strikes found in the Western United States.

• Asarco during those years was a custom smelter. It would smelt anything. 

• Lead smelter during those years (1940s-1950s) were used to separate out Uranium from their parent ores (i.e. Wulfenite).

• The waste material (ores) would’ve been put in the old lead dump and likely are radioactive tailings.

• Under the bankruptcy agreement, the trustee for the cleanup is not required to address radioactive waste.

• Despite 8 years of research, all government agencies (EPA, USDA, DoD, DOJ, etc) have refused any information regarding "regulated" radioactive materials going through our El Paso Asarco site. They claim no knowledge and refuse to release key invoices listed in the 73 page US DOJ EPA Asarco confidential for settlement purposes only document (now in public domain, see NYTimes 10/2006)

• The old Atomic Energy Act still protects Asarco and all involved from disclosure and liability.

• I uncovered a document from Idaho National Laboratory Library detailing how Asarco, Dupont, Engelhard were official U.S. DOE high level radioactive waste disposal contractors from places like Oakridge TN and Hanford WA during the years Asarco was burning illegal, secret hazardous waste (1998 73 page USDOJ EPA Asarco formerly confidential for settlement purposes only document)(New York Times, front page story, October 2006).

• The community has not been told all the details about what has been burned all those years and is still not being told. 

• Engelhard, Dupont, Asarco were listed in the aforementioned 1998 confidential for settlement purposes only document sludges, incinerator ashes and only God knows what else through the two El Paso Asarco con-top furnaces (that metal curled stack was shorter than the others so its smoke stayed more local – likely a 30 mile radius including Juarez Mexico, Southern New Mexico and Texas).

• We have data showing that the chemical element Hafnium is found in greater quantities amount near the stack location. Hafnium is unusual. Hafnium is commonly found in nuclear control rods. 

• In 1998 an EPA publicly announced that El Paso had the highest Beta radiation levels in the nation. Higher than Oakridge, Higher than Hanford. In October 1998, Texas suddenly decided to deny the license of the Sierra Blanca Nuclear Dump site. During that time, the media coverage on that issue of the dump was so high that thousands of people were marching at the Capitol of Mexico against the dump. Media coverage was huge. 

• By December 1998, Asarco said in the El Paso Times it was thinking about "idling" the Asarco Smelter, and it did beginning of February 1999. The plant never re-opened.  All the staff who worked at the site's steam plant are dead now, from unusual diseases, according to an unnamed supervisor. 

• I asked all the environmental agencies representatives to give me a sample of slag from the Asarco water distillation unit (it went up in flames during clean-up) rated to remove radioactive waste from the plant's process water. They refused. 

Given all this information, we know Asarco ran U.S. DOE high level radioactive waste materials through the El Paso Asarco smelter and it is likely that the old lead dump contained radioactive material. That whole area would be contaminated by Arsenic for years to come. If the powers that be still continue with development of the Asarco site as detailed recently in an El Paso Inc article by David Crowder, I plead, deeply plead, with Honorable Representative Beto O’Rourke, given his own experience attending Mesita Elementary School a mile from Asarco, that they do not allow children to grow up on any of the Asarco land. That they do not build play grounds. That they do not build an elementary school there. He of all people should understand having attended Mesita the risks that that all these children will undergo if they allow the school and playground to be built. As a certified teacher and a Christian, it deeply grieves me. It hurts my heart to watch this happen. 

Heather McMurray

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