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ASARCO agrees to clean up contaminated yards in Hayden and Winkelman, Ariz.

Release Date: 04/15/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415.947.4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, ASARCO agreed to continue contamination investigations and remove arsenic, lead and copper contaminated soil in Hayden and Winkleman, Ariz.

ASARCO has agreed to spend up to $13.5 million on yard cleanups. In addition, ASARCO is required to complete a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study to determine the full extent of soil contamination and identify cleanup techniques.

“This agreement outlines the process which will be used to clean up the legacy of waste left in Hayden and Winkelman,” said Keith Takata, director of the Superfund division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will continue to work with the State to eliminate the threat of contamination and to protect human health.”

“This agreement is a win for the residents of Hayden and I am pleased the parties came together to get it done,” said Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. “Committing ASARCO to paying for and conducting the cleanup under close supervision is a good solution.”

The EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will oversee all of ASARCO’s operations to ensure compliance with the agreement. The agreement further requires ASARCO to conduct additional cleanups, as necessary, ensure full and final completion of the work and to fully reimburse the EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for expenses related to oversee ASARCO’s work.

The agreement will become effective upon approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, because ASARCO had filed for bankruptcy, and following a 20-day public comment period after publication of notice in the Federal Register.

The ASARCO Hayden Plant site is an active copper ore processing, concentrating and smelter facility with properties in Hayden and Winkelman. The ASARCO plant includes a crusher, concentrator, smelter and tailings impoundment areas. The EPA collected air and soil samples in Hayden and Winkelman after the EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality discovered elevated levels of arsenic, lead and copper in previous sampling. In addition, ASARCO operates an overland conveyor that directs ore from the crusher to the mill building for processing while passing over some of Hayden’s residential streets.

Arsenic primarily enters the body through ingestion or inhalation as airborne dust and is a known carcinogen. Other common side effects include decreased production of red and white blood cells, impaired nerve function, and skin irritations. Exposure to lead is particularly harmful to children and can affect virtually every system in the body, particularly cognitive development. Exposure to high lead levels can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults or children and ultimately cause death. Copper at low levels is essential for good health, but exposure to high levels can irritate the nose, mouth and eyes and cause headaches, dizziness and nausea.

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