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Vicit-rv -vcc, dsif kiroWAtksg; Olt 4fin SHAKING HUGOS NAND. Fo -Ar HE EVES TM{ SaMEON6 WHO CouNTRYITIAT WAY”: and other toxins over El Paso. The company has been in bankruptcy proceedings since 2005, and environmentalists feared that Asarco might take another century to clean up its toxic Recently they received welcome news: Federal and state governments have reached a $1.11 billion settlement with the company to clean up contaminated sites across the country, including the shuttered smelter in El Paso. And Ascarco finally might have found a buyer. On May 18, federal bankruptcy judge Richard Schmidt will hear the company’s proposal to be bought out by a foreign investor and to pay off its environmental liabilities. The Sierra Club is concerned that Texas’ slice of the cleanup money is not enough. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has asked for $52 million, but the environment group says a more realistic amount would be $250 million. “We are talking about maybe one of the largest environmental cleanups in Texas history:’ says Oliver Bernstein, a 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 1, 2009 spokesperson for the Sierra Club. “The polluter should pay for the cleanup, not the taxpayers.” Terry Clawson, a TCEQ spokesperson, defended the state’s proposal in an e-mail to the Observer, writing that staff had carefully evaluated data from both Asarco and independent sources to arrive at the $52 million estimate. Bernstein says the state’s proposal doesn’t include the larger contaminated area outside El Paso, which encompassed southern New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico. Nor does it factor in a 250-acre site adjacent to the smelter that served as a dump. The Department of Justice reached its settlement with Asarco in March and is seeking comments on the agreement. On April 21, the Texas Sierra Club chapter wrote to the U.S. Attorney General to dispute the state’s cleanup request. The Sierra Club is asking for a public hearing in El Paso. It also wants the Obama administration to fund health studies on former smelters workers. “We hope they’ll view the El Paso facility as a major environmental problem that needs to be dealt with: Bernstein says. Melissa del Bosque