Asarco Inc. — Globe Plant

This is proposed to be a National Priorities List (NPL), or "Superfund," hazardous waste site. While we’re the lead agency for remediation of the site, the EPA Superfund program provides technical support and input on all remediation-related activities to ensure the objectives of the Superfund program are met.

Available documents

Site map

Site summary

Location

  • 495 E. 51st Ave., Denver
  • The 89-acre Globe Plant is a high-purity metals refining facility located at East 51st Avenue and Washington Street in north Denver and south Adams County. The community that surrounds the Globe Plant includes approximately 2,000 residents.

History

  • The Globe Plant has been the processing site for various heavy metals since the 1880s.
  • The plant has produced gold and silver, operated as a lead smelter, refined arsenic, and began cadmium refining in 1926, which continued until June 1993.
  • The plant currently produces litharge (lead oxide), bismuth oxide and test lead, and refines high-purity metals.
  • Colorado filed a Natural Resources Damages suit in 1983 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the federal Superfund law. A remedy for the site was selected and a consent decree was signed in 1993.

Environmental concerns

Chemicals

The chemicals of concern are the metals cadmium, arsenic, lead and zinc.

Exposure

  • Residents may be exposed to metals through ingestion of contaminated soil particles or by inhalation of re-suspended or airborne particles.
  • The site contains a groundwater contaminant plume flowing off the plant site to the northeast, an unlined waste pile that contributes to groundwater contamination, and soil contaminated with arsenic, cadmium and lead both on and off the plant property.

Medical monitoring

  • The Globe area medical monitoring results from 1994 to 1999 indicate no community wide evidence of health effects from the Globe Plant.
  • For those five years, eight children (6.0 percent) under age 7 had blood lead levels greater than or equal to 10 ug/dL (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established 10 ug/dL as the blood lead level of concern for children).
  • Six percent of all participants had elevated blood cadmium results.
  • Nearly 3 percent of all participants had elevated urine cadmium results.
  • Long-term residents who have lived for more than 30 years in the Globe area are approximately four times more likely to have an elevated urine cadmium test result.
  • The rate of having an elevated urine cadmium test result isn't higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.
  • Of the 250 Globe area residents tested before and after cleanup of their yards, all but four showed no clinically significant increase in metal exposure.
  • A 1995 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment cancer study found that for areas near the Globe Plant the number of observed cancer cases for all cancers studied was similar overall to the number expected based on the cancer rates in the Denver metro area.
    • The cancer study analyzed cancers with known association with arsenic, cadmium and lead exposure, as well as the number of all types of cancer combined that are reported to the Colorado Central Cancer Registry.

Site remediation

  • The Consent Decree calls for remedies for the four areas of contamination related to the plant, reimbursement of state costs, payment of natural resource damages, and medical monitoring.
  • The remedies include:
    • Measures to reduce toxic air emissions from the Asarco Globe Plant.
    • Providing monitoring of emissions from the plant.
    • Reducing contamination of and treatment of groundwater.
    • Cleaning ditches around plant grounds.
    • Closing a hazardous waste pile on the plant site.
    • Sampling community soils (residential, commercial and public properties).
    • Cleaning up soils that exceed contamination levels of health concern.
  • The off-plant soils remedy calls for removal and replacement of the top 12 inches of soil and 18 inches in vegetable garden soils where metals concentrations exceed 73 parts per million (ppm) cadmium, 500 ppm lead or 70 ppm arsenic.
  • Residents were given the option to have their property cleaned if soils contain more than the average background for arsenic at 28 ppm.
  • An additional action level of 500 ppm for zinc applies to garden soils.
  • Community soil remediation construction activities have been completed at over 550 residential properties, parks and vacant lots.
  • The remediation of the Sedimentation Pond, Industrial Drainage Ditch and Retention Ponds has been completed.
  • Work has been completed by installing a terrace drain groundwater collection system.
  • The hazardous waste pile (FNP) remains open to accommodate toxicity characteristic soils that lie within the area of contamination.
  • During the residential remediation, medical monitoring was provided to over 1,500 participants.
    • The medical monitoring program for Globe area residents and workers ended in 2004.
    • Biological testing for lead, cadmium and arsenic, and indicators of renal damage was available for the duration of site remediation.
    • Community outreach and educational services are still available to area residents.

More information

Related websites

Contact