Region 8

ASARCO, Inc. (Globe Plant)

ASARCO Globe site location map Site Type: Withdrawn from Proposed NPL
City: Denver
County: Adams, Denver
Street Address: 495 E. 51st Avenue
ZIP Code: 80216
EPA ID: COD007063530
SSID: 0815
Site Aliases: American Smelting & Refining Co., Asarco Globe
Congressional District: 1

What's New?

Updated July 2010

In June 2010, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) received funding from the ASARCO bankruptcy settlement to complete work on Operable Units (OUs) 1, 2, 3 and 4.

CDPHE and EPA are investigating the use of a new technology to treat the soil and groundwater contamination at the site. Since this new technology is different from what was selected in the original 1993 Record of Decision (ROD), CDPHE is preparing a proposed plan for OUs 1, 2 and 4. This proposed plan is anticipated to be released in the fall of 2010. The proposed plan and 30-day public comment period will give the public the opportunity to consider and comment on these changes to the original ROD. It is anticipated that a ROD Amendment will be signed after public comment is considered and the consent decree may then be modified. OU3 will be completed in accordance with the 1993 ROD.

Site Description

The ASARCO Globe Plant site is located in a mixed industrial, commercial and residential area, known as Globeville, near the South Platte River, in Denver and south Adams counties. Smelting operations that separated impurities from gold, silver, copper and lead began on the site in 1886. The American Smelting and Refining Company, later named ASARCO, bought the plant and converted it to a lead-only production facility in 1901.

In 1919, ASARCO changed from producing lead to producing arsenic trioxide for insecticides, medicines and glass. In 1926, ASARCO began cadmium production for protective coatings for iron and steel. The ASARCO Globe Plant closed in November 2006.

In December 1983, CDPHE sued ASARCO for damages to natural resources using EPA's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund). As a result of this suit, CDPHE and ASARCO entered into an agreement in 1987 to conduct joint studies to determine the extent and nature of the site-related contamination. EPA proposed the site for its National Priorities List (NPL) on May 10, 1993. The site was never finalized on the NPL and remains a proposed NPL site.

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Site Risk

The smelting operations left elevated levels of cadmium, lead, arsenic and zinc in groundwater, surface water, sediments and soil at and near the plant. The contaminated groundwater extends as far as the South Platte River.

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
groundwater, sediment, surface water, soils cadmium, lead, arsenic, zinc metals smelting and refining

People can be exposed to contaminants by swallowing contaminated soil or by inhaling the dust. Exposure can potentially cause cancers, such as skin cancer. Possible non-carcinogenic effects from exposure over long periods of time include damage to the central nervous system, reproductive system, kidneys, and digestive tract.

Currently, all immediate threats at the site have been addressed and the remedy is expected to be protective of human health and the environment after all components are completed.

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Cleanup Progress

CDPHE and ASARCO reached a settlement in July 1993 to clean up the site. ASARCO will pay for the site's cleanup. CDPHE is in charge of administrative and technical oversight while EPA is the support agency. The settlement includes measures to: Reduce toxic emissions from the plant; monitor emissions from the plant; reduce future contamination of groundwater; clean ditches on plant grounds; close a hazardous waste pile on the plant; sample community soils and clean up those soils that are a health concern due to metals; provide a medical monitoring program; and provide long-term monitoring of the site. The ASARCO Globe Plant site has been divided into four OUs:

  • OU1 – the former neutralization pond
  • OU2 – groundwater and surface water including terrace groundwater, floodplain groundwater, industrial drainage ditch and 51st Avenue retention ponds, north side sewage treatment plant pond, and localized floodplain plume
  • OU3 – community soils and vegetable gardens
  • OU4 – ASARCO Globe Plant site including buildings, point source and fugitive air emissions, surface soils, former sedimentation pond, and spill and runoff control pond

Prior response actions for each of these OUs include:

  • OU1: maintenance of a soil cover and institutional controls (ICs)
  • OU2: installation of a terrace drain to intercept contaminated groundwater and treatment of approximately 12,000 gallons per day and implementation of institutional controls
  • OU3: cleanup of community soils, which began in the summer of 1994. Most of the residential cleanup was completed in the summer of 2002. Approximately 650 properties were cleaned up and 70 acres of commercial property have been remediated while seventeen properties remain to be sampled and possibly cleaned up.
  • OU4: excavation of former sedimentation pond; placement of residential soils from OU3 and from OU1 of the Vasquez Blvd./Interstate 70 Superfund site; establishment of vegetative cover over the soils; and implementation of institutional controls

The site still has some industrial properties left to be remediated. Funding from the bankruptcy proceeding was received in June 2010 and planning is now underway to determine how best to complete the work at the site.

During the residential remediation, medical monitoring was provided to more than 1,500 participants. The medical monitoring program for Globeville area residents and workers ended in 2004. Biological testing for lead, cadmium and arsenic and indicators of renal damage was available for the OU3 remediation. Community outreach and educational services are still available to area residents.

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Community Involvement

Community involvement plays an important role in the Superfund process. EPA uses a number of different tools and resources to promote effective, on-going, meaningful community involvement. The goals of the Superfund community involvement program are to:

  • Keep communities affected by sites informed throughout the cleanup process
  • Provide opportunities for communities to comment and offer their input about site cleanup plans
  • Facilitate the resolution of community issues tied to a site

Appendix C (page 62) of the third five-year review contains the Community Involvement Plan. This plan was revised in June 2009 and contains the most current community involvement information.

The upcoming proposed plan process will include a public comment period and a public meeting.

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EPA places a high priority on land reuse as part of its Superfund response program mission. The Agency tries to select cleanup options that encourage and support future use of a site. We use two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

  • Exploring future uses before the cleanup remedy is implemented, an approach that gives the Agency the best chance of designing cleanup remedies to support the likely future use of a site
  • Working with landowners and communities to remove barriers not considered necessary for the protection of human health or the environment at those sites where remedies are already in place

One option for reuse is the siting of clean and renewable energy projects on contaminated (or formerly contaminated) lands. As part of this effort, EPA is evaluating the potential for energy projects on these properties and working with landowners and communities to identify ways to remove barriers to such projects.

The ASARCO Globe Plant site is surrounded by residential, commercial, and industrial properties in Denver and Adams counties. Discussions are underway to determine use of this former industrial property.

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Land Use Controls and Other Institutional Controls

Land use controls are the most common type of institutional control (IC). ICs are administrative or legal controls that help reduce the likelihood for human exposure to contamination. ICs can also help protect the integrity of the remedy. Examples of ICs are:

  • Zoning ordinances
  • Environmental covenants
  • Deed notices
  • Well-drilling restrictions
  • Building permits
  • Informational advisories

For the ASARCO Globe Plant site, an Environmental Covenant was enacted in 2005 that includes the following use restrictions for OUs 1, 2 and 4:

  • No residential purposes or to raise crops and livestock
  • No child or animal daycare facility
  • Except for remediation purposes, no use or extraction of groundwater
  • No excavation or construction on the former neutralization pond
  • The soil cap must be maintained on the site

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Five-Year Reviews

EPA or the lead agency conducts five-year reviews following the start of a Superfund cleanup when contamination is left on the site. These reviews are repeated every five years. We use these reviews to determine:

  • How the remedy is working
  • If the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment

At the ASARCO Globe Plant site, CDPHE in consultation with EPA conducted the third five-year review of the remedial actions performed at the site. The review was conducted from March through June 2009. Overall, the results indicate that all immediate threats at the site have been addressed and the remedy is expected to be protective of human health and the environment after all components are completed.

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Site Documents

Note: Best way to open a very large file: right-click and save it to a folder.You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

Update to the Five-Year Review, January 2011

Third Five-Year Review (PDF), September 2009(87 pp, 1.4 MB)

Environmental Covenant, October 4, 2004

Record of Decision (PDF), February 18, 1993(325 pp, 16.6 MB)

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Steve Wharton
Remedial Unit Chief
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (EPR-SR)
Denver, CO 80202-1129
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6935 (toll free Region 8 only)


Fonda Apostolopoulos
State Project Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530
888-569-1831 ext. 3411 (toll-free)

Site Information Repositories:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
HMWMD Records Center
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, Colorado 80246-1530
888-569-1831 ext. 3331 (toll free)
303-759-5355 FAX
By appointment only

Denver Public Library, Central Branch
Government Publications
10 W. 14th Avenue Parkway
Denver, CO 80204-2731

EPA Superfund Records Center
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129
To request copies of administrative record documents call:
800-227-8917 ext. 312-7273 (toll free Region 8 only)

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Photo/Video Gallery

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ASARCO, Inc. — Globe Plant site at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Exit

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Public Health Assessment

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