GRIP Files Petition for Temporary Restraining Order to Halt Phelps Dodge Hurley Smelter Stack Demolition
Community has not been given adequate information and time to review plans to protect public health and safety during demolition event
Silver City, NM, May 14, 2007 – The Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), a non-profit advocacy group that promotes responsible mining, filed today in Grant County 6th Judicial District a Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order to halt the Phelps Dodge Hurley Smelter stack demolition until the public’s health and safety have been adequately protected. The Petition was filed by GRIP’s attorney, Douglas C. Littlejohn of Littlejohn Law Office of Silver City, NM.
GRIP President Sally Smith stated, “The demolition of these stacks threatens the health of Hurley residents – especially those with respiratory health problems – and the safety of their property. We agree the stacks need to come down, but the company needs to remember that it’s part of the community, and it should ensure that its neighbors are not harmed.”
The organization was notified by Phelps Dodge on May 10 that the stack demolition date had been moved up to May 25 with a community information meeting scheduled for May 22—only three days prior to the demolition. With less than two weeks before the scheduled demolition, neither GRIP nor community members have received requested details from Phelps Dodge of the demolition plan, evacuation plan, contingency plan, or air quality or soils monitoring plans. GRIP is filing for a Temporary Restraining Order until public health and safety issues can be fully addressed.
The public health and safety threats identified by GRIP could include falling debris, seismic shock causing damage to homes, potentially high short-term concentrations in the air of particulate matter and possible hazardous metals, and potential contamination of soils and indoor air with dust and metals from the demolition event. Exposure to some of these contaminants could cause short- and long-term health problems.
Hurley resident Carol Ketcherside, a member of a citizen panel called the Community Work Group, expressed her frustration with the lack of detailed information on the upcoming smelter stack demolition. Ketcherside stated, “PD failed to inform those that were interested and impacted enough about the demolition. At the meetings I attended, members of the Community Work Group asked about the stack demolition, but we never got much detailed information and never were shown the
video of the dropping of the San Manuel stacks so we would have an idea what to expect.” Ketcherside continued, “As a long-term COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease] sufferer, I am concerned about the health of myself, my family and my young grandchildren.”
The Community Work Group was created by an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the Chino Mines Company. It has been reviewing testing and cleanup of historic mining waste in and around the Chino Mine since 1997, including the Town of Hurley and the Hurley smelter cleanup.
Carlos Provencio, a long-time Mining District resident, is concerned that his elderly mother, Maria Provencio, who lives in Hurley may not receive adequate notice of evacuation plans and how to protect her health during the demolition. “My mother is 78 years old and has emphysema,” stated Provencio. “I am concerned that the proper planning has not been done to ensure that measures are taken to protect the health and safety of elderly residents and those with respiratory problems like my mom.”
GRIP’s petition identifies a number of issues that have not been adequately addressed by Phelps Dodge to protect public health and safety, including:
- Is there an evacuation plan protective of public health?
- What is the emergency management plan for the demolition?
- What are the meteorological conditions that are acceptable for the demolition to be conducted in a way that protects public health and safety?
- Does PD have a dust control plan to minimize particulate mater and metals that are re-entrained in the air as a result of the demolition?
- What are the threshold levels for ambient concentrations of particulate matter and other constituents, such as asbestos and metals, below which public health is protected?
- What are the details of PD’s air monitoring plan to measure particulate matter, asbestos and metals concentrations before, during and after the demolition event?
- Will PD be measuring concentrations of metals in Hurley soils before and after the demolition event to determine if previously remediated soils have become re-contaminated?
- What are PD’s plans to notify Hurley residents of the demolition, possible evacuation plan and potential dangers to public health?
- Does PD plan to compensate Hurley residents for the reasonable costs of evacuation?
- Will PD compensate residents for any damages to their homes caused by the demolition event?