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U.S. EPA orders ASARCO to clean up contaminated yards in Hayden and Winkelman, Ariz.

Release Date: 03/19/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan,, 415.947.4149 or 415.760.9161 (mobile)

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered ASARCO to remove contaminated soil from 14 homes in Hayden and 1 home in Winkelman, Ariz.

The EPA collected air and soil samples in February 2006 from 99 yards in Hayden and 31 yards in Winkelman after the EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality discovered elevated levels of arsenic, lead and copper in previous sampling.

“This is an important first step in cleaning up the legacy of waste left in Hayden and Winkleman,” said Keith Takata, director of Superfund division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will be working with the responsible party as they perform work under our agreement.”

Without the removal action, the EPA is concerned that residents may be exposed to harmful levels of arsenic, lead and copper that are present in yards and homes. ASARCO will remove the contaminated materials under EPA oversight, with Asarco’s clean up crews working throughout the month to excavate approximately 4,000 cubic yards of soil and other materials. The contaminated materials will be disposed of in ASARCO’s landfill. The EPA estimates ASARCO will spend approximately $590,000 on this portion of the cleanup.

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. 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. While this removal action will clean up the most heavily contaminated residential yards in Hayden, many other areas of Hayden and Winkelman will need to be addressed in later stages of environmental response. The EPA, the State of Arizona, and ASARCO are working towards the next phase of the cleanup.

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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