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Possible buyers show interest in former Asarco site

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas -- About 400 acres of land where Asarco used to stand are up for grabs a year after demolition. The Texas Custodial Trust owns the land and is looking for a buyer.

As KFOX14 previously reported, crews are clearing out any contamination from the land that could have traces of arsenic and lead. There are also plans to collect the waste in a giant waste cell and close it off from the public.

"[The University of Texas at El Paso] does have an environmental engineering department and they could use those components as kind of a living laboratory for the students," site trustee Roberto Puga said.

Puga said UTEP could be an ideal buyer for the land, and the university confirmed it is interested in buying the land closest to campus.

Students told KFOX14 studying the former Asarco site could help UTEP become one of the best research universities in the country.

"They would gain more accessibility to maybe research or grants," UTEP senior Taylor Harmon said.

Harmon studies biochemistry and said new labs could motivate more students to study science.

"The more recruitment of students to these labs is going to guarantee more innovation in the future as far as research science and innovation along the border," Harmon said.

Puga also said the trust would like a buyer to develop land on both sides of Interstate 10. He said the city of El Paso could be interested and conducted a study on the property a few years ago.

"Some of the drawings they had in the 2010 plan included an amusement park or a sports or entertainment venue," Puga said.

Some residents told KFOX14 those possibilities could help the city.

"I think it would boost the economy. It could also make more people stay here for the summer, spend their money here and give back to the city," east El Paso resident Chris Gaytan said.

The trust set aside money for maintenance on whatever comes into the former Asarco site, but the land would still be a multimillion dollar sale.

Puga said private investors are also interested in the property and expect to hear from more potential buyers as the cleanup continues.

The land is expected to be ready for redevelopment by early 2016.

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