Community Workgroup and GRIP Meet with NM Environment Department Air Quality Bureau to Discuss Air Monitoring Plans for Hurley Smelter Stack Demolition
Significant outstanding issues remain one week prior to scheduled demolition
Silver City, NM, May 18, 2007 – On Thursday, members of the Chino AOC Community Workgroup (CWG) and the Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP) met with Staff of the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Air Quality Bureau (AQB) to discuss Phelps Dodge and NMED plans for air quality monitoring during the smelter stack demolition. The AQB informed the attendees at the meeting that NMED will be monitoring for particulates and metals and is in the process of finalizing locations for air quality monitoring equipment.
Phelps Dodge is addressing certain air quality concerns. GRIP, however, believes that significant outstanding issues remain including:
1) No dust suppression during demolition event – Yesterday, Phelps Dodge told NMED that they will not use dust suppression to keep dust down during the demolition event. Phelps Dodge had earlier noted in a Silver City Daily Press article dated January 17, 2007 that “During structure demolition we kept the dust down with water and spraying, and received no complaints.”
2) GRIP has not been made aware of whether any action level for re-testing Hurley yards exists – Phelps Dodge will sample ambient air contamination at the time of the demolition in order to determine whether Hurley soils have been re-contaminated and if they will need to be retested. GRIP is concerned because Phelps Dodge has not yet provided NMED with this action level. GRIP believes that the action level should be defined and agreed upon prior to the demolition event.
GRIP, a non-profit advocacy group that promotes responsible mining, filed on Monday, May 14th in Grant County’s Sixth Judicial District a Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order to review the Phelps Dodge Hurley Smelter stack demolition plan.
The organization was notified by Phelps Dodge on May 10th that the stack demolition date had been moved up to May 25th, with a community information meeting scheduled for May 22nd—only three days prior to the demolition. GRIP filed the Temporary Restraining Order due to the rapidly approaching date of the demolition, and because outstanding issues had not been addressed to the public’s satisfaction. “Adequate time must be taken and planning conducted to ensure that public health and safety of the Hurley community can be fully addressed,” stated GRIP Board President Sally Smith.
Neither GRIP nor community members has received requested details from Phelps Dodge concerning the demolition plan, any evacuation plan, contingency plan, or air quality or soils monitoring plans. At a Tuesday night Community Workgroup meeting, Phelps Dodge representatives Mike Leach and Kate Linnes declined to provide any further information about the demolition due to the litigation. Instead the PD representatives advised the CWG members to attend the May 22nd Informational Meetings to find out more.
The public health and safety threats identified by GRIP include the possibility of falling debris, seismic shock causing cosmetic damage to wooden structures, and potentially worse damage to brick and masonry structures; potentially high short-term concentrations of airborne particulate matter, dispersion of 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 can cause short- and long-term health problems.