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Texas Custodial Trust

El Paso, Texas


  • $52MM – Environmental funds under our active management

  • $2MM – Dollars reinvested in the local economy by utilizing local labor

  • $25MM  – Creatively recovered site assets to fund additional site cleanup

  • 800ft and 600ft tall – Demolition of the two giant smokestacks

  • 120,000 CY – Slag removed from Parker Brothers Arroyo

  • 455,258 man-hours with no recordable incidents or lost time

  • Transparent communication with the community and stakeholders

Trust Overview

In 2009, the Texas Custodial Trust (TCT) was established as part of the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) bankruptcy settlement for ASARCO's El Paso smelter property (~458 acres).  The Trust received $52 million to own, remediate, and facilitate the reuse of the Site, which is located on the U.S./Mexico border.

Roberto Puga, of PathForward Consulting, was named the Custodial Trustee.  PathForward Consulting manages all aspects of the property and remediation with the oversight of the TCEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Technical Milestones

  • Chimney Demolition/Site Demolition:  The chimney demolition planning culminated in the successful demolition of both chimneys in April 2013. This was the tallest chimney demolition event in U.S. history (~830ft).  As such, the planning and implementation of the chimney demolition began in early 2013 and required significant coordination with public and private entities from the local, state, federal and international level due to the site’s location on the US-Mexico border.  Additionally, the Trustee has been responsible for the successful and safe demolition of all legacy smelter structures.

  • Asset Recovery: The Trustee identified and sold an additional ~$25.4 million in assets. This increase in revenue has allowed the Trust to enhance remedial actions in order to increase the development potential of the property.

  • Soils & Surface Water Remedy: The remedy consisted of the excavation of Category 1 (arsenic source) material, the restoration of Parker Brothers Arroyo, and installing an engineered cap.

  • Groundwater Remedy: The remedy included Groundwater to Surface Water Diversion (keeping clean water clean), Point Source Removal and Treatment, and In-situ groundwater treatment.

  • End State Vision/Redevelopment: The Site is zoned for residential/commercial/industrial, and the Trustee is currently negotiating with prospective purchasers regarding the sale of the property.

Regulatory Agencies Involved

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and EPA Region 6 are the beneficiaries of the TCT


Project Website

Please visit our Texas Custodial Trust website,  Recasting The Smelter,

Project News 

Site History

The site began operations as a lead smelter in 1887. It was owned by Consolidated Kansas Smelting and Refining Company, which later merged with the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). ASARCO started producing copper in 1910, operated a Godfrey roaster for cadmium oxide productions in the 1930s, and constructed a slag fuming plant for zinc recovery in 1948. ASARCO added an antimony plant in 1970. The zinc plant was closed in 1982, the lead plant closed in 1985, the antimony plant shut down in 1986, and the cadmium plant was shut down in 1992. Most recently, in February 2009, the state air permit for the copper smelter was voided by the TCEQ at ASARCO’s request. The main potential chemicals of concern (PCOCs) are: Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Zinc. The media of concern is both soil and groundwater. In 1994 and 1995, after a series of compliance inspections, it was determined that unauthorized discharges of solid waste, wastewater, and storm water had occurred at the facility. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC; the immediate predecessor of the TCEQ) issued an Agreed Order. The Order instructed ASARCO to conduct a site characterization, define the horizontal and vertical extent of soil and groundwater contamination, and define the extent of contamination across property boundaries. In October 1998, ASARCO completed the initial site investigation and submitted the ASARCO El Paso Copper Smelter Remedial Investigation Report, El Paso, Texas. In April 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Texas filed a civil enforcement action in federal district court that alleged ASARCO violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to properly manage hazardous waste and engaging in unlawful recycling practices. This action resulted in an April 1999 Consent Decree (H-99-1136) being entered in federal district court. In addition to addressing other ASARCO sites, the Consent Decree directed ASARCO to complete the corrective action work at the El Paso site under the 1996 State of Texas Agreed Order. The Consent Decree was subsequently modified in 2004. On May 20, 2005, the TCEQ issued a Corrective Action Directive to ASARCO to conduct remedial action for the El Paso site. In 2005, ASARCO and related entities declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Nov. 13, 2009 the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi issued an order confirming the plan of reorganization. On December 9, 2009, ASARCO placed $52,080,000 in an environmental custodial trust to address remedial activities. Currently, the TCT is in discussions with parties interested in purchasing the property.

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