Tough Decision for Tacoma

The EPA poses a choice between cancer risks and jobs

Joggers in Point Defiance Park near Asarco Inc.'s mammoth copper-smelting plant sometimes complain that they can taste the air on windless days. With 575 workers, the 80-acre smelter, operated by Asarco since 1905, pumps some $35 million annually into the Tacoma, Wash., area economy. Unfortunately, the smelter pumps out arsenic, a deadly cancer-causing poison that is released directly into the atmosphere as a byproduct of copper refining. Last week EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus announced details of a new federal air-quality standard for...

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