Posted: Apr 11, 2013 5:29 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2013 5:29 PM
EL PASO, Texas (AP) The head of a demolition team assigned to topple two massive smokestacks at a former West Texas smelter said Thursday that the demolition will go this weekend as planned.
Roberto Puga heads the trust in charge of cleaning up the site where the ASARCO smelter stood for more than 100 years. He told reporters Thursday that all tests of the dirt surrounding the stacks and the smelter towers have shown no signs of contaminants.
As the Saturday morning demolition approaches, some people have raised concerns about the possible contamination caused by the cloud of dus0t the towers might cause as they hit the ground and the dust from the stacks themselves.
Former employees of the smelter demonstrated last week demanding the demolition be rescheduled until after tests for contaminants have been done by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Environmental Quality Commission.
Puga said that "even though we found no reason to test for asbestos or chemical weapons," tests were ordered. And, he added, all the results "have come back non-detect."
It'll take 300 pounds of dynamite to bring down the 600-ft and 829-ft tall chimneys. The massive structures are set to fall through a dense water mist produced by 26 mist cannons into beds of dirt brought from a non-contaminated site.
The smaller structure will to fall first and is expected to take nine seconds to topple, while the larger tower will start falling shortly afterward and will take approximately 20 seconds to do so.
The blasts are scheduled for some time between 6:30 and 7:00 Saturday morning. Puga explained it's when the winds are calmer. The demolition will be postponed if wind speeds are higher than 15 miles an hour.
A section of Interstate 10 will remain closed between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday and traffic will be diverted through El Paso streets.
The ASARCO smelter was shut down in 1999 amid complaints of incinerating materials recovered from a military facility used to manufacture chemical weapon.