In about 30 seconds, a chapter in El Paso’s history ended with the explosion of the two ASARCO smokestacks with dynamite.
Two loud blasts caused by about 300 pounds of dynamite were heard as the chimneys, 600 and 829 feet tall, slowly fell on their sides early Saturday. The rubble crumbled into a dense water mist that soaked beds of dirt brought from a non-contaminated site.
The demolition was delayed nearly 10 minutes from the scheduled 6:45 a.m. start.
Hundreds gathered on hillsides, nearby business parking lots, and at West El Paso homes to get a view of the historic event.
ASARCO operated from 1887 until 1999, but the site has been mired in controversy ever since with a battle over what should be done with the site and the smokestacks.
In March 2009, ASARCO officials gave up on efforts to reopen the company’s El Paso plant, blaming the economic downturn.
Mayor John Cook hade even headed up a lawsuit against ASARCO that cost the city $1.2 million.
The ASARCO site had four smokestacks and the last two to be demolished before today were in September 2011.
Timeline of ASARCO in El Paso
1887 - The plant first opens its doors
1999 - Smelter is shut down
August 2005 - ASARCO files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
October 2005 - Judge rules the plant poses a risk to air quality
January 2006 - City passes resolution to deny the plant a permit renewal
February 2008 - Texas Commission on Environmental Quality grants air permit renewal for the plant
Feb. 3, 2009 - ASARCO announces it does not intend to reopen in El Paso
April 13, 2013 - Final two ASARCO smokestacks are demolished