Sunday, November 18, 2012

ASARCO clean up

The Globe plant began in 1886 as the Holden Smelter and was renamed the Globe in 1889 by Dennis Sheedy who took over the failing concern. Workers endured twelve-hour shifts six days a week, exposure to heat and toxic chemicals. But displaced farmers from Eastern Europe found meager wages and dangerous conditions preferable to starvation and conscription in the old country and lined up for available jobs. Houses were built nearby and the fledgling neighborhood was named Globeville. 
In 1899 the Globe joined the American Smelting and Refining Company, (ASARCO), a multi-national trust of smelters, mines and railroads. As valuable ores were depleted, smelting became more expensive and inefficient plants were closed - the company discontinued smelting at the Globe Smelter in 1919 and began recovering valuable metals in ore shipped from other ASARCO plants. 
During World War II, the Globe plant became the nation's largest supplier of cadmium, a corrosion-resistant metal used in paint, ball bearings and as a coating for aircraft, employing over 200 workers, many of whom lived in the neighborhood. It is that legacy of heavy metals and toxic processing that affects the neighborhood today. 
A series of lawsuits by neighbors led to settlements in 1993 and 1997. ASARCO replaced soil and vegetation around homes and businesses in Globeville and improved environmental conditions in the plant itself. But the transnational company that once seemed all powerful struggled financially and ASARCO filed for bankruptcy in 2005. In 2009, the ASARCO Multi State Environmental Custodial Trust was created and title to the ASARCO Globe Smelter property was transferred to the Trust. Globeville I, LLC is the contractor selected by the Custodial Trust to manage the completion of the remediation and ultimate sale of the ASARCO Globe Smelter property. On November 7th, 2012 a meeting was held at the Globeville Civic Association to present an update on the remediation efforts.
Community Outreach Coordinator Morgan Landers gave a brief history of the problems and the remediation efforts to date. Project Manager Chris Miller described the demolition of the plant, the grinding of brick and concrete, and the disposal of asbestos. Mary Hashem gave an account of the remediation of ground water and Joseph Harrington demonstrated the use of natural materials to strip heavy metals from the ground water. A question and answer period revealed neighbors' concerns about the effectiveness of the remediation and the kinds of development that might take place. The community expressed its hope that green industries, small business or hi-tech companies could be drawn to the area, and that jobs in the neighborhood might be available. Links were given to sources of information about the remediation process, submission of bids, training for jobs, health and environmental reports and community information. 

Morgan Landers listens as Chris Miller describes the work that has been done so far.

Joe Harrington demonstrates how natural materials strip heavy metals from groundwater

Project managers Globeville I, LLC
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Remediation Contractors, Alexco Resource U.S. Corp

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