The 102 folks who live in Anapra, N.M., are peeved with their Texas neighbors in El Paso. It seems that Anapra has the highest lead contamination readings in the state and New Mexico officials claim the cause is a copper and lead smelting plant owned by Asarco Inc. in El Paso.
New Mexico officials claim they have proof that lead and sulfur emissions from the plant are carried by winds to the tiny town, where some schoolchildren have been found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. The company claims it has complied with all state and federal emission rules. It says the pollution is from unregulated factories in Juarez, Mexico. New Mexico officials are so angry they plan to ask Environmental Protection Agency head Anne M. Gorsuch to investigate the plant even though it is in another state -- an unprecedented move.
Such a demand would provide an ironic twist to an ongoing controversy at EPA. A few weeks ago, an internal investigation showed that Gorsuch had promised a financially strapped oil refinery that EPA would not prosecute it if it began putting more lead than allowed by EPA standards into its gasoline. At the time, Gorsuch said EPA was thinking about relaxing the lead standard.
The oil refinery that won Gorsuch's promise is located in New Mexico.