Local News

Dec 26, 2013 7:37 PM

Environmental Clean Up Site for Sale, Neighbors Vow Fight

CORPUS CHRISTI - For years, the Asarco-Encycle plant was a blight on the map, a place filled with dangerous chemicals left by decades of flouting environmental laws. A few years ago, the place went bankrupt.

Now cleaned up, the 64-acre site on Up River Road is back on the market. But not everybody is happy about it.

Tammy Foster lives in nearby Dona Park, a longtime member of the city's refinery row.

She's also within shouting distance of the Asarco plant and the smoke stack. Like many people, Foster's lived there most of her life and to her, it's home.

But she's ready to go. She doesn't want to get stuck at another crossroads with no choices. She told KRIS 6 News if a buyer wants the Asarco site, they need to buy them out, too.

"Either they leave it alone or buy us out," she said. "Leave it vacant - let it sit dormant til the neighborhood's gone."

Officials say the plan is to put a tank farm there for holding Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas.

After all, the site is on the Corpus Christi ship channel. Letting it sit vacant is not what the bankruptcy court had in mind.

This time an oil and gas company Plains Terminals, LLC wants to pay $20 million for the land.

Foster says the poisons left by the Asarco plant remain in the ground around there, though state environment officials say only in trace amounts.

So with the help of environmental lawyers, the neighborhood is going to push back on every air permit that Plains Terminals LLC, or any other buyer, tries to get.

"We have arsenic, cadmium, zinc.. everything that was produced and used at Asarco is in our bodies and our land," she said. So, why put something else there to contaminate us further we don't need it? We're sick enough. We've been the refinery row's guinea pigs for long enough. We're done."

We spoke with the bankruptcy attorney, Mike Schmidt, today. He said about a dozen buyers have shown interest but only Plains Terminals LLC has submitted an offer. The court will finalize the deal in mid-January.

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