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ASARCO Chimney Future Still Uncertain

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POSTED: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 7:09pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 7:45pm

Bankruptcy Trustee decison to come"Within a Week"

They've stood  since 1966. and depending on which El Pasoan you talk to, the Asarco copper smelting smokestacks on the west side are worthy of admiration, scorn, love and hatred.

Today city council heard all of those words and more .Here are comments from various speakers:

"The Asarco chimeny is iconic to the history of the city of El Paso. Its taller than the St Louis arch, taller than the Seattle space needle, the San Jacinto monument and the Washington monument"

"Our estimate is 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars to retrofit the structure"

"I think its important for everybody in El Paso to understand that this former smokestack...will never never ever puff another whiff of smoke from smelting of anything that will ever travel off of the site."

"Use the land for the baseball team, yes it can be done its physical  if the heart and common sense tells you so"

In the end, passionate words won't save or condemn the stacks. For that matter council cant decide either way. The future of the stacks and the entire Asarco property is up to this man, Robert Puga. When Asarco went bankrupt several years ago he became the trustee in charge.

"My position is to take a rational, logical approach to this issue...and my entire intercourse with them has been around, does this make sense? who's going to be paying for this, whos going to be responsible, liable, how will the trust be made whole, and its from that persepective that we need to do this work."

By mid-day council took two almost contradictory votes, which seems perfect for this unceretain situation. It voted down its own idea of buying the stacks and a few acres around them as a monument. Less than a minute later, it voted its support to keep the stacks anyway, through some kind of deal or compromise with the trustee. All of that leaves the fate of the Asarco smokestacks still very much in the air.

Mr. Puga said after today's council session that he plans to "decompress". and then have a decision about the Asarco facility in a week.

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