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ASARCO Tower: NOT “one of the largest structures in the World”

I don't mean to cause any "structure envy", but...

There’s been a lot of talk about the fate of the Asarco Smokestack as the demolition date is approaching and still no deal has been struck. Some of the arguments are solid on BOTH sides of the issue. But some are simply fatarded. Here’s a quick analysis of some of the more bunk-o-riffic arguments that I’VE ACTUALLY HEARD THIS WEEK!

1.) “The Asarco stack is an important historical landmark. It’s been around for over 120 years, forchrissakes!”

Truth: The smelter itself has been around since 1887 and they did have a 100 ft. smokestack. A tall structure for the time, but not the 826 ft. tower that we’re talking about today. The current tower was actually built in 1966. The same year Texas Western won the National Championship under Don Haskins. The same year Tabitha was born on “Bewitched”.

Is the tower historic? Sure, I guess, but it’s not quite the Old West artifact that some people imagine it to be.

 

2.)  “The main tower is 826ft, the smaller 610ft. These are some of the tallest structures in the world. they are taller than the gateway arch in st. louis.”

(This is a copy and paste of an actual e-mail I recieved.)

TRUTH:  The main tower is NOWHERE NEAR the tallest structure in the world.  When it was built in 1966 it was NOWHERE NEAR the tallest structure in the world.  Literally, there were hundreds and hundreds of taller structures in the world when the Asarco stack was built. Today, there are thousands. In no way, could anyone argue that they are “among the tallest structures in the world”.

However….

Our beloved smokestack did  hold one distinction for a period of time. Are you ready for this? Maybe you should sit down. OK, here goes…

When it was built, the Asarco Smokestack in El Paso was the tallest CHIMNEY in the world!!! Ever! When it came to chiminies, we had King Kong, baby!

For about two months. When the record was taken over by the Lippendorf Power Station in Leipzig Germany.

Yeah…uh, you see, they built a chimney that was 125 feet taller than ours.  But, a few months after that, WE won the NCCA college basketball championship! Whoooo! Let’s see any shnitzle-lickin’, strudel-eating, Hasselhoff-lovers do THAT! Eff your chimney, Fritz!

3: “The Asarco tower is a symbol of industrial pollution that caused people to get sick and even die!”

This man, for instance, merely rolled down his window while driving on I-10. His face was stripped of flesh within seconds!!

 

TRUTH:   Medical findings in the late 60′s and early 70′s did show that El Paso had the highest level of lead in the ground of any American city. More alarmingly, children within 1 mile of the plant were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

But, the Asarco Smokestack was built as a PREVENTATIVE MEASURE.  And, it worked! The main reason that Asarco built the tower in 1966 was so that the contaminants would be released at a much higher altitude, where they would disipate. With any luck, prevailing winds would blow the remaining pollution over into Juarez where lead poisoning would only make # 3, 544 on the list of “Things Most Likely to Make You Sick”.

 

When a follow up study was done 10 years later, The Centers for Disease Control found that blood-lead levels had been cut in half among children living within a mile radius of the plant.   So, while the Asarco smelter was certainly the kind of place that would cause Captain Planet to shit rainbow-colored poo, the SMOKESTACK, the structure we’re actually discussing, was a vast, vast improvement.  It may actually have saved lives.

There it is.

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