"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Phelps Dodge / Freeport-McMoRan Company - why they hate the smell of formaldehyde 24/7 in Morenci, Arizona. Cost of copper and capitalism

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided trailers for Katrina refugees. It was discovered that unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a componeent of the glue used in the wood ply to make them was perfusing some of the 120,000 they had purchased.

Revelations of high formaldehyde levels caused the government to offer to buy back or replace trailers sold to evacuees at a discount under a federal program. As of May, FEMA had received 140 complaints and replaced 47 trailers. It also said it would not continue to put storm victims into the trailers.

So they sold 60 of them them to copper company, Phelps Dodge ( from March 19th 2007 a Freeport-McMoRan Company - "the world's largest publicly traded copper company" who took them over) ,to house their copper mine workers in Morenci and Safford, Arizona. Employees live rent ree and the company pay the utilities. Estimated median household income in 2005: $42,600 (it was $46,010 in 2000)/ Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $0 (it was $0 in 2000)

For US8$ you can have a company guided tour round the open pit mines - the largest in the world - "The orientation also will cover safety while on the tour. " - so no chance of seeing the trailer park then - not even for kids, " Because of safety regulations, children younger than 9 are not permitted on a tour."

Employees living in the ex FEMA trailers complained of the smell, irritation causing watery eyes, sore throats, nausea and breathing difficultis in both adults and children.

Formaldehyde testing was conducted in 9 trailers by Associated Consulting Technologies Inc. of Tucson for the company . In a letter to Phelps Dodge, industrial hygienist William Martin wrote, "Mitigation of the formaldehyde exposures is recommended," placing the last word in italics for emphasis.

Random tests conducted on July 30 had found levels ranging from 0.08 to 0.68 part per million, about half of the level found in FEMA trailers. That is below 0.75 ppm, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's permissible level for workplaces. OSHA's regulation is designed to protect adult employees working eight-hour shifts. Travel trailers, described as "temporary housing," have been home to some miners and their families for six months.

The level was 3 times what the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows for components in manufactured homes. HUD has no rule for trailers.

Paul Boman, Phelps Dodge health and safety manager, as a result sent a letter to the trailer families on August 16th describing the test results and suggesting they could reduce concentrations of the chemical by keeping windows open and running fans or air-conditioners 24 hours a day. (the company pays utilities)

Finally he ended the letter ;

"If you are uncomfortable with this situation, please remember that you may, if you wish, find other living arrangements,"

The reason they are living in the trailers is that there is no other housing available in the area.

Here is the copper price over the last 5 years which explains why Phelps Dodge are digging it out as fast as they can. ..and here is the Freeport-McMoRan Company (FCX) share price over that period.

.. and this is what Zero and beyond - the safety policy which Paul Boman, Phelps Dodge health and safety manager is paid to implement..

...and that's zero fucking true.

More at azcentral.com by Dennis Wagner

NB: FCX closed Aug 22nd US$ 85.59 up US$ 4.30 (5.29%) see this investor discussion forum

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