On April 13th, early in the morning, a major portion of El Paso’s skyline for almost fifty years, the Asarco stacks, disappeared and, literally, were “gone with the wind.” First the 620 ft. smaller stack and then the larger 828 ft. iconic stack were felled within seconds of the detonation of hundreds of pounds of dynamite placed in both of them. Hundreds (if not thousands) of witnesses got up early for the pre-dawn event, occupying key points around the Asarco plant to watch the historic demolition of these majestic stacks. For some it was a moment of joy, a closing of an era with bad memories of pollution, bad smells and an old, dirty industry. For many of us though it was a sad occasion, signaling an end to an era rich in history, good and bad, but also removing from our landscape a major symbol of that history and the cultural heritage it represented. For those of us who wished to preserve the stacks it took away an opportunity to not only celebrate our past but to use the stacks as a lodestone to point our way forward into a new, vibrant future. Unfortunately, it also continued a legacy by many associated with Asarco, including some of our local officials, as well as state and federal agencies to misrepresent, to obfuscate and to outright withhold facts and information from the public critical to their well-being, health and long-term safety.
Despite pronouncements to the contrary, the felling of the stacks did not go well. It was not a “clean drop” as predicted. Continue reading