Phelps Dodge Hurley Smelter Stacks Are Gone
Photos of Hurley smelter stack demolition taken from Chino Blvd. and Romero St., southwest of the stack
Hurley , NM ; June 5, 2007 – At approximately 10 am this morning, the Hurley smelter stacks were “dropped”, permanently removing these landmarks from the area’s landscape. A three-minute warning siren alarmed and then another and within seconds the explosion could be heard and the stacks began to fall to the northeast. Dust shot out of the base of the stacks and a huge billowing cloud formed and drifted to the south. Although the prevailing winds appeared to be from the north/northwest and at times even the northeast, for a few minutes the cloud appeared to be drifting to the southwest toward our vantage point and a number of onlookers decided to head for their cars (including us). The dust cloud was quite dense and black in places with an odor possibly of explosives. Fifteen minutes or so after impact, the remnants of the cloud were at the southern edge of town.
The serious nature of today’s event was demonstrated by the huge 1000 foot high dust cloud that formed following impact and showed the importance of having adequate planning and oversight of the demolition. Although Phelps Dodge has maintained that dust suppression was unnecessary and “window dressing”, GRIP was notified by the New Mexico Environment Department on Monday that PD was required by the Department and EPA to wet the impact zone with water and use water cannon once the stacks had come down. There was concern that the 2500 sq. ft of non-friable asbestos mastic remaining at the upper end of the Kennecott stack could be pulverized by the impact of the stack demolition and asbestos could possibly be released.
Within 3 weeks, PD should have asbestos monitoring data available to NMED and the community. GRIP will be following up with NMED on air quality monitoring results and subsequent remediation of the smelter site. Check back here at the GRIP website for updates. GRIP is glad that the Hurley stacks are down with no apparent impact to public health and safety. The smelter site can now be cleaned up in order to protect the long-term health of Hurley residents.