Monsoon Winds Stir Up Arsenic-Laden Dust
from Tailings Pile Mountain

These pictures were taken by an amateur photographer in August 2005, and presented publicly at the August 17, 2005, EPA community meeting about the EPAs Superfund investigation into the contamination from ASARCO smelter operations in Hayden and Winkelman, where soils show high levels of arsenic and other contamination.

Monsoon winds stir up dust from the unwanted crushed rock parts and dust that was separated out of the smelter feedstock and put into a pile that has grown through the years to an enormous size, like an artificial mesa in the river flatlands next to Hayden and Winkelman. These crushed copper-bearing ores also carry high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc, and other heavy metals, which are also in the dust. The levels of arsenic in the pile of crushed rock and dust range up to 35 parts per million, according to EPAs initial sampling. No one has sampled the dust, however.

The dust allowed to blow off and away from this mountain of waste is not supposed to be this thick as it restricts visibility, and is bad to breathe.
Residents say this dust blows from the pile of crushed rock and dust often like this, yet they cannot get the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to enforce the laws that prohibit this.

(After this webpage address was emailed to the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the agency did investigate and found ASARCO in violation of the Clean Air Act, levying a $10,000/day penalty until ASARCO made sufficient changes in its operations to stop this dust from blowing. DWAZ has noted and reported subsequent blowing dust violations, but the agency seems to be satisfied with the choice ASARCO has made to put a dust suppressant on top of the tailings mountain, and apparently is not pursuing the later violations.)

Appeal to EPA Headquarters Goes Unanswered


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