University of Arizona

                                             Special Collections will be closed December 20, 2023 through January 1, 2024 in observance of the University Holiday break.

Groups Against Smelter Pollution (G.A.S.P.) Records

Groups Against Smelter Pollution (G.A.S.P.) was founded in 1984 by a group of concerned citizens who sought to minimize smelter pollution in Southeastern Arizona and Northern Sonora for the preservation of human health, the environment, and the economy. Acting upon their mission, G.A.S.P. organized to educate themselves and others about what they referred to as the "Grey Triangle," an area formed by three smelters: the Phelps Dodge Smelter in Douglas, AZ, the Compania Minera de Cananea smelter in Cananea, Sonora, and the Mexican de Cobre Smelter in Nacozari, Sonora. G.A.S.P. focused on education, outreach and direct action: publishing newsletters, organizing protests, circulating petitions and instigating letter writing campaigns throughout their three years of operation. With the majority of G.A.S.P. membership located in the Bisbee/Douglas area, group members focused their activism on compelling public officials to force Phelps Dodge Corporation to meet the federal air pollution standards of the Clean Air Act by July 16, 1986 or shut down the Douglas Reduction Works. G.A.S.P. members were also active in documenting the health and environmental effects smelter pollution was having on themselves, their families, and their communities through photographs and testimonials. In 1986, G.A.S.P. put intense pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to deny Phelps Dodge Corporation the Nonferrous Smelter Order that would allow the smelter to continue operating with no restrictions. In July of 1986, the Environmental Protection Agency refused to renew a suspension of the exemption from state smokestack emissions limits. Phelps Dodge closed the smelter on January 15, 1987. G.A.S.P. disbanded shortly thereafter.

This collection is composed of the records of Groups Against Smelter Pollution (G.A.S.P.) dating from 1984 to 1986, including administrative files; activity files (containing records of demonstrations, meetings, and health surveys); communication files (containing newsletters, press releases, and other G.A.S.P. writings); correspondence; newspaper clippings; negatives, photographs, and slides (containing images of smelter pollution and environmental activism); and one scrapbook. Also included are research materials regarding the Phelps Dodge Corporation, particularly documents pertaining to the legal debate on the operation of Douglas Smelter and its eventual closure. Additionally, the collection includes subject files on topics of particular interest to this environmental coalition, such as health and environmental issues relating to smelter pollution, and individuals and organizations related to the smelter debate. Be aware that dates listed reflect the subject content of the material.