UPDATE: Congressman O'Rourke will work to help former Asarco workers
POSTED: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 3:52pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 5:50pm
EL PASO (KTSM) — UPDATE 6:50 PM: The association of former Asarco steel workers requested help from the federal government, as we reported yesterday the group initiated a process to get medical care and financial assistance, the group of men worked in the smelter town company for decades, Asarco was closed in 1999 after authorities determined the company was participating in illegal toxic waste disposal, several of them are continuing to deal with the bad health conditions which include skin rashes, cancer, and diabetes, this association reached out to congressman Beto O’Rourke, he spoke about the situation and how he is planning to help them.
It's been more than 14 years since Asarco closed its doors in El Paso, but the consequences for some of the workers, seem never ending, Carlos Rodriguez a former Asarco worker dedicated 30 years to the smelter town company, however bad health and suffering are still part of his life.
"I have skin rashes very bad skin rashes they come and go, I had at least six, seven episodes since 1995 my doctors don't know what it is, what kind of skin condition it is" Rodriguez said.
Carlos is only one of many workers who continue to struggle with the consequences of the illegal toxic waste disposal that took place in Asarco; at least 45 former workers have died since the 1990’s.
"I lost my hearing on my right ear and my bones they hurt I mean I can walk but they hurt" former worker Ernesto Robles said.
The health conditions are just the tip of the iceberg, Carlos says paying for medical costs and treatment is becoming harder.
"The bills that these guys are accumulating are tremendous everybody is broke, it's either buy a gallon of milk or pay your medical bills" Rodriguez added.
The group has reached the federal government as their last option for medical and economic assistance saying the toxic materials belonged to the military and they deserve compensation.
"Congressman Beto O’Rourke is helping us and hopefully he can do something for us" Carlos concluded.
The office of Congressman Beto O’Rourke, confirmed that O’Rourke is aware of the situation and is working towards helping this group, we will continue to follow this story.