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Case Study: Asarco

Facilitating the cost-effective and safe decontamination, decommissioning and demolition of a former smelting and refining plant in El Paso, Texas, ready for redevelopment.

Background

After a 100 year history of smelting and refining in El Paso, Texas, Asarco entered into a bankruptcy settlement of its environmental liabilities. The clean-up of the former operations in El Paso is being led by the Texas Custodial Trust (Roberto Puga, Trustee). The Trust’s objectives were to maximize asset recovery while safely preparing the site for the remediation and eventual redevelopment.

During its 100 years of operation, the El Paso facility had been used for smelting a range of metals, including lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic and copper. Asset identification and recovery from the site would help to increase funds available to the trust to remediate the site. The demolition was expected to attract a great deal of public interest due to the site history and the demolition of the two remaining concrete smoke stacks, one 650 feet (200 meters) and the other 830 feet (250 meters).

Our Approach

ERM was contracted to provide site safety oversight and to plan and manage the turnkey asset recovery and demolition. ERM developed a comprehensive plan that focused first on decontamination and asset recovery to generate upfront cash flow for the client while reducing potential expenses from third party providers.

Part of the asset recovery process included developing plans to rinse and prepare materials for transportation and to efficiently implement field activities to seize favourable market conditions. ERM prepared and implemented health and safety plans to protect site workers and reduce the potential for offsite constituent exposure.

Benefits and Value

The implementation of the injury free asset recovery program included:

  • Recovery of valuable metal materials from the site including copper, gold, silver and lead for recycling and recovery which helped return more than US$8million to the client.
  • Salvage and sale of equipment and other materials including a complete Oxygen Plant that netted millions of dollars in additional income to the client while reducing that amount of materials destined to disposal.
  • Interfacing with public and agency stakeholders to demonstrate safe and appropriate work methods were being utilized at the site.
  • Implementing a contractor management system that emphasized safe performance, financial stability, local participation and quality work product.

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