EPA Asking For Input On Asarco Clean-Up

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As clean-up at the former Eagle Picher Superfund smelter site in Hillsboro nears completion, a legal notice from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on page 7B of today’s edition is asking for public input into clean-up options at another Superfund site–the former Asarco smelter in Taylor Springs.

The EPA is asking for comments on clean-up options that range from $43.2 million to $47.7 million.  According to the notice, the comment period begins on Monday, June 7, and runs to July 7. Comments may be made through the EPA website, by mail, by email, or by telephone. 

Comments must be postmarked or submitted by July 7 to EPA community involvement coordinator Heriberto León directly at 312-886-6163 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or call 312-886-6662 to leave a voicemail message. Comments may also be emailed to leon.heriberto@epa.gov or submitted online at www.epa.gov/Superfund/asarco-taylorsprings.

According to the EPA, the proposed cleanup involves excavating contaminated soil from the facility property and properties near the site that were impacted by contamination from zinc manufacturing.  A final cleanup plan will not be selected until the EPA reviews all comments received during the public comment period.  Plans may be modified based on public comments.

Clean-up options for the 96 acres where the facility operated range from $25.7 million to $28.1 million for demolition of buildings, excavating, consolidating, and covering the waste.  

The remaining 437 acres of Asarco property contains several drainage ditches and shallow groundwater.   Cleanup options for that area range from $6.5 million to $7 million, which includes excavation, removal of two dams and repair of another, and either asphalt capping or excavation of access roads.

Costs for residential area clean-up ranges from $9.6 million to $11.9 million, and includes excavation of properties, ditches and alleys of up to two feet.

The cost for groundwater monitoring is estimated at $1.4 million.

Asarco began operations in 1912 conducting zinc smelting, refining, and sulfuric acid production until 1930.  Waste products were dumped on the site, along with coal ash from the plant’s gas producing operations.  Zinc oxide production began in 1917 and continued until the plant closed in 2004.  The site was added to the Superfund national priorities list in September 2006.

In the ensuing investigation, lead was found in the facility area, access roads, and dams in the surrounding area, and in the residential area where manufacturing waste products were used as fill or surfacing material on properties, roadways, ditches, and alleys.  Arsenic, cadmium and zinc were found in the groundwater.

In September 2007, emergency cleanup action was taken to remove soil with elevated metal concentration from 31 local properties.

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