El Paso, TX — It's getting closer to the day when the Asarco stacks will come down.
Tuesday in City Council, the site trustee Robert Puga explained exactly how the demolition process will happen. Since December, he and his team have been preparing for the stacks demolition. Their website has all the studies and animations demonstrating how they believe the stacks will safely be torn down and how the dust and environmental affects will be maintained.
"I'm spending $78 m to remediate the site,” said Puga.
He says developers are not interested in the property as is because the smokestacks are so unstable that a severe windstorm could not knock them over.
“Nothing that we're doing is going to make the situation worse. What would make the situation worse is to leave the site as it is," said Puga.
But demolition opponents are refusing to believe that. Some are still worrying what those stacks will release into the environment.
"The fumes are gonna be exposed to everyone like myself, all the chemicals I was exposed to besides lead and arsenic, about 8 other chemicals, high levels. Where two different doctors are telling me that everyone is going to be contaminated as well," said Patrick Garza, a former ASARCO worker.
Many people like Garza aren't satisifed and want more tests done on the site. Puga, says the Trust's studies go above and beyond what even a Federal agency would do, testing thousands of locations on and around ASARCO.
"We understood what the risks were to ground water, to soils, to the air and then we took site specific remedial steps to mitigate those risks,"said Puga.
The tests uncovered traces of asbestos, mercury and PCB's.
"Not a game changer type of changes, but we did find things that we had to handle specially, so I'm glad we did that," said Puga.
From those tests, came a detailed plan on how to demolish the stacks. Puga says after the implosion, the remaining rubble will be decontaminated and washed down through a multi-step process. Crews will bury the concrete and other materials in a special area, a plan that meets environmental standards.
Now its up to the Trust to decide the site's future.
"Sports arena, either indoor or outdoor, an amusement park, more of an industrial complex and we've been working to make that a reality," said Puga.
The clean up has already started at the neighboring arroyo where the stacks sit. Crews have removed material keeping it from contaminating the groundwater.