Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tucson-based ASARCO threatening El Paso again

Texans, Mexicans and New Mexicans protest against ASARCO pollution in their communities

EL PASO -- Mining corporation ASARCO, long notorious for its poor environmental practices, is threatening metro-El Paso/Juarez with moves to re-open a highly polluting smelter there.

Despite strong opposition, GOP-dominated State of Texas officials gave ASARCO the pollution permit yesterday in Austin.

El Paso officials vow to continue to fight to keep the dirty smelter off-line.

Opponents of the permit, including El Paso city officials and an area legislator, have long argued that allowing ASARCO to restart smelter operations in El Paso would pose a serious health risk to residents in El Paso, Ciudad Ju├írez — a sprawling Mexican city across the Rio Grande from El Paso — and Sunland Park NM.

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, an El Paso Democrat, asked the commission Wednesday for the added air monitors but urged the three-member panel to deny the permit based on what he described as a history of causing pollution.

"One hundred years of ASARCO's operation has left this legacy," Shapleigh told the commission. "You will find lead in schools, yards and homes. My home was one that was cleaned up."

Erich Birch, a lawyer for the city of El Paso, argued that the TCEQ commissioners didn't have the legal authority to grant the permit, based on the ruling of a pair of administrative law judges who presided over a contested case hearing on the permit two years ago.

ASARCO is in the middle of a federal bankruptcy case that includes as much as $6.5 billion in environmental liabilities.

El Paso Mayor John Cook has said the city, which has spent about $1 million in its six-year fight against Asarco, would contest the permit in court.

"This battle is far from over," Cook said Wednesday.

Many people in Tucson and Arizona know ASARCO all too well, and we're with you in El Paso/Juarez.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Daniel I applaud you for your efforts on Asarco. This company must be stopped at some point and in the mean time must be monitored 24/7. I am a ex-employee, started in 1972 and became one of the company's loyal. They have this very bad habit of making money at any cost. Our cost. they very secretly passed toxic hazardous materials from a government military disposal site in denver, co. pesticides, military warfare agents and god knows what else. Our loyalty was never considered even as so much as a warning. The ohsa regulations state when a process change takes place the employees must be made aware and training must take place. Neither occurred and the results was several case of lukemia, colon, lung, cancers, diabeties, pigmentations, rashes, and deaths. some of our ex-co workers continue to get sick. I don't know your capacity in trying to close this menace but here in el paso texas we are trying to keep them from opening again. The laws my friend are all in favor of the big business and we know our battle will be up hill. we have many citizens that are willing to go the whole way against this company. we will bite their ankles as often as it will take to shut them down or simply force the go away. we invite you to join our efforts and save the people of arizona