El Paso Times – Public divided on saving stacks, tracing illnesses linked to Asarco smelter

Money raised to save the Asarco smokestacks would be better spent on finding out why former smelter employees suffer a variety of unusual illnesses, some members of the public said Thursday during a meeting called by the man in charge of the cleanup.

Roberto Puga, the cleanup trustee, provided information on progress at the site and changes in the $52 million cleanup plan. Changes include a new design for dealing with stormwater runoff and groundwater treatment, capping the site with dirt instead of concrete to improve the redevelopment possibilities, and excavating more contaminated soil that will be placed in an on-site landfill.

“We have about a 25 percent increase in remediation money,” Puga said. That is about $12 million that has been gleaned from the sale of material on the site, including equipment, he said.

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