ASARCO trustee details final demolition plans

ASARCO trustee details final demolition plans

POSTED: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 8:08pm

UPDATED: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 8:09pm

While the ASARCO smokestacks are historic, they're not exactly the city's most prominent tourist attraction, this week being the exception. All week hundreds of people have been snapping photos of the landmark that's about to be no more.

"I have mixed emotions. I'd like to see it stay, but I know things change," said Jim Tift, a West El Paso resident who was taking pictures of the smokestacks on Thursday.

At the ASARCO site the demolition process has already begun. Crews Thursday fired up 26 misters for a test run. They'll be used on demolition day to control the dust. Three thousand gallons of water will be sprayed into the air every minute.

"We're not aware of any system this large being used anywhere in the U.S.," said Roberto Puga, the site trustee.

The real excitement will start around 6:40 a.m.Saturday. That's when a flag will be raised signifying the start of the countdown. Two minutes later fireworks will light the sky, and then at 6:45 a.m. the 600 foot tower will fall. Nine seconds later, the 826 foot tall stack will follow.

"It's one of those things if you're right, no one will remember. If it goes wrong, I don't know what will happen to me," said Puga.

That said, site trustee Roberto Puga is confidant the stacks will fall according to plan. The only thing that could stop the demolition? The weather. If there are sustained winds of 15 miles an hour or if gusts top 30 miles per hour the demolition will be delayed.

As for Jim Tift, he'll be watching no matter what. He saw the stacks go up.

"I thought wow. It was supposed to be the biggest in the world at that time," said Tift.

Demolition crews will use 300 pounds of dynamite to bring down the stacks. That crew does have a good track record, one that includes the demolition of Texas Stadium in Arlington and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

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