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Toxic Chemicals in Dona Park

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susan_harr6 years ago

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) spent the weekend testing residents of Dona Park, a neighborhood of Corpus Christi, Texas, for traces of toxic chemicals in their bodies. The Dona Park neighborhood is located north of Interstate 37 and south of Up River Road along Golla Drive, Manchester Avenue, Dona Drive, Vernon Drive, Linda Street, and Gale Street. The neighborhood is situated near the old Asarco zinc refinery, which was closed in 2005. Toxic chemical testing and clean-ups have been conducted in the area since the 1990s, but residents have continued to be concerned about the presence toxic chemicals in their soil and in their bodies.

Dona Park Neighborhood Assessment Study

According to published reports, in October 2010, a neighborhood resident came forward with new information. The man claimed that when he was a child, some 30 years ago, he witnessed drums bring buried in the neighborhood. These metal drums were used to hold toxic chemicals. Radar testing found evidence of these drums, and the digging began. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) excavated the area, but did not find the drums. The search did, however, re-ignite fears among residents which led to more testing. Because of concerns among the citizens, TDSHS conducted urine and blood testing over the weekend. Results are said to be back within a few weeks, and the results will determine whether or not further action will be necessary.

A Timeline

Information below provided by TCEQ.

  • 1941-1985- American Smelting and Refining Company (“ASARCO”) operated a smelter that produced high-grade zinc at the facility
  • 1986-1988- Facility remained inactive
  • 1988-2002- Encycle conducted a waste-management business at the facility
  • 1994- TCEQ began sampling soil in the Dona Park Neighborhood and found toxic levels of zinc and lead
  • 1994-1998- ASARCO performed investigative and remedial activities to address contamination in residential soils in the Dona Park Neighborhood
  • 2003- 2004- Encycle, on behalf of ASARCO, conducted additional investigations and removal of soils
  • 2005- ASARCO zinc refinery/Encycle is shut down
  • 2010- TCEQ began Dona Park Neighborhood Assessment study
  • 2011- Residents lined up for blood and urine testing as part of study
Toxic Chemicals

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Zinc smelting, as was done at the Asarco plant, can lead to large amounts of “slag” or waste residue produced by the smelting process. This “slag” contains unburned residues and metals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic and zinc. When exposed to humans, these metals can cause severe adverse reactions including those listed below. Information below provided by, National Institutes of Health, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and EPA.


  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Kidney damage
  • Pulmonary emphysema and bone disease (osteomalcia and osteoporosis)
  • Anemia
  • Teeth discoloration
  • Loss of smell (anosmia)


  • Learning disabilities
  • Reduced IQ
  • Decreased growth
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impaired hearing
  • Brain damage


  • Damage to immune and nervous systems
  • Numbness or pain in certain parts of skin
  • Uncontrollable shake or tremor
  • Loss of sight, touch, and taste
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures and death


  • Pigment spots in the skin
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Skin cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
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