Copper Fist

ASARCO sign next to the road to the smelter.

Fugitive emissions from one of the ASARCO smelter operations in the Hayden-Winkelman area form a thick pall of smoke visible from the cars passing by on the nearby State Highway 177. No plume of smoke can "legally" be more than 40% opacity, the environmental measurement of the thickness of smoke. Arsenic, a potent cancer-causing agent, has been reported in the ambient air in Hayden at 165 times the "standard." There is also a high incidence of lung cancer in Hayden.


The flow of wastewater discharged from the scrubbers at the crusher, where ore and rocks are pulverized into dust. The wastewater flows under State Highway 177. The water is used to control the dust, and the excess water and sediment flow away from the crusher.

A closer look at the gulley full of wastewater and a type of hazardous waste. The odor of sulfur is also noticeable, which may explain the corrosion on the metal sign on the gate to the crusher complex.

An even closer look shows how the flow of the hazardous wastewater meanders through the copper and metals sediment like the Mississippi River through its delta.

Looking over the roof of the Crusher at the dust blowing off the top of the tailings pile. (The tailings are the unwanted crushed rock parts and dust that was separated out of the smelter feedstock.) The tailings pile has grown through the years to an enormous size, like an artificial mesa in the river flatlands. These crushed copper-bearing ores also carry high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc,and other heavy metals, which are also in the dust.

The tailings pile dwarfs the Crusher building and seems to challenge the encircling mountains. The tailings pile is a large enough to be part of the view, looking from Hayden.

The dust from the tailings pile blows towards the bed of the Gila River, which winds by Winkelman and Hayden.


One of the old wooden wastewater aqueducts that carry "excess blowdown" wastewater away from the smelter complex. "normally," there are few occasions when these are used. Homes are very close to this, and children can wander up to the aqueducts. There is also a distinctive odor like battery acid (sulfuric acid) often around the area. At nearby residences, there have been many cancer cases reported, sometimes as many as six different cancer cases in the same home. Acidic conditions make heavy metals, like lead, 17 times more bioreactive.

A closer look at the wooden "excess" wastewater aqueducts shows an opening, and the industrial wastewater is flowing amidst tailings sediments. Local people tell how their cats have fallen into this water and then lost large patches of their hair, or worse.

Exposed metal and fences in Hayden corrode from the sulfuric acid in the air. Sulfuric acid and sulfur dioxide are manufactured and released by the smelting process. Do fences in your town corrode like this?

Another of the aqueducts as it leaves the smelter complex through the town.

More of the wastewater aqueduct system, and the top edge of a huge gulley of hazardous wastes.

One wonders if the people in these homes can see past the aqueduct to this huge gulley of hazardous wastes. The greens and blues are from the copper and other heavy metals. Do you know of any other towns where a type of hazardous waste flows through the gulleys?

Not exactly a water slide...A house is very close to the wastes.

Looking back at where it all comes from.

The view through the fence back up by the smelter complex. Looks just like the green stuff in the gulley down the hill...

Graveyard segment:

Looking down on the graveyard for the towns of Hayden and Winkelman. It is an awfully large graveyard for a town with a population of around 900.

Visting the graves of departed relatives. There are not too many elderly people in this town. There is a disproportionately small number of people over 55.

Many Hayden and Winkelman residents believe their parents and relatives have found their way to this graveyard or another graveyard, far, far too soon, and in too large of numbers, because of the dust, smoke, and pollution from the smelter activities.


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