Copper Stain: ASARCO's Legacy in El Paso
University of Oklahoma Press, Jan 10, 2019 - History - 198 pages
“The convertors would spew it out,” employee Arturo Hernandez recalled, referring to molten metal. “You’d see the ground, the dirt, catch on fire. . . . If you slip, you’d be like a little pat of butter, melting away.”
Hernandez was describing work at ASARCO El Paso, a smelter and onetime economic powerhouse situated in the city’s heart just a few yards north of the Mexican border. For more than a century the smelter produced vast quantities of copper—along with millions of tons of toxins. During six of those years, the smelter also burned highly toxic industrial waste under the guise of processing copper, with dire consequences for worker and community health.
Copper Stain is a history of environmental injustice, corporate malfeasance, political treachery, and a community fighting for its life. The book gives voice to nearly one hundred Mexican Americans directly affected by these events. Their frank and often heartrending stories, published here for the first time, evoke the grim reality of laboring under giant machines and lava-spewing furnaces while turning mountains of rock into copper ingots, all in service to an employer largely indifferent to workers’ welfare. With horror and humor, anger, courage, and sorrow, the authors and their interviewees reveal how ASARCO subjected its employees and an unsuspecting public to pollution, diseases, and early death—with little in the way of compensation.
Elaine Hampton and Cynthia C. Ontiveros weave this eloquent testimony into a cautionary tale of toxic exposure, community activism, and a corporate employer’s dubious relationship with ethics—set against the political tug-of-war between industry’s demands and government’s obligation to protect the health of its people and the environment.
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Environmental Injustice and Its Symbolic Violence
ASARCOs Symbolic Violence
A Health of Interviewees
B Age and Cause of Death of Interviewees Deceased as of December 2015
Timeline of ASARCO in El Paso
Annotated List of Documents Related to ASARCO El Pasos Impact on Employees
Other editions - View all
acid ACORN Arizona arsenic ASARCO El Paso ASARCO Inc ASARCO smelter asbestos Asbestosis blood burning cadmium cause chapter Charlie Rodriguez chemicals Ciudad Juárez clean cleanup contamination copper copper smelter corporate dangerous Danny Arellano Danny’s described Diabetes disease documents dump dust emissions employees Encycle environment environmental justice Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality environmental racism evident ex-employees exposure factory giant Grupo México Hayden hazardous waste health effects health problems Ibid illegal impact industry injustice interview Jose Manuel labor lead pollution locations Lung cancer Mesothelioma metal Mexican mining molten officials participants Paso smelter Paso’s PCB oil plant production recycling reopen reported River safety slag Smeltertown smelting smokestacks soil solid waste story sulfur dioxide Sunset Heights Superfund symbolic violence TCEQ Texas Commission Texas Custodial told Toms River tons toxins U.S. Environmental Protection United Steelworkers unknown Cancer workers