Trying to save iconic smokestack

Associated Press

In this Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 photo, engineers in harnesses test the sturdiness of the 862-foot former Asarco smokestack in El Paso, Texas, amid efforts to save the iconic structure. Supporters have hired engineers for the $34,000 testing through Friday. A 610-foot concrete chimney is also being checked for cracks and structural problems at the plant that closed in 1999. (AP Photo/The El Paso Times, Ruben R. Ramirez) EL DIARIO OUT; JUAREZ MEXICO OUT
Photo: Ruben R Ramirez, Associated Press / The El Paso Times

EL PASO — Experts in harnesses have been testing the sturdiness of an 862-foot West Texas smokestack amid efforts to save the iconic structure.

Supporters have hired engineers for the $34,000 testing through Friday of the former Asarco LLC smelter smokestack. A 610-foot concrete chimney is also being checked for cracks and structural problems at the plant, which closed in 1999.

Robert Ardovino with Save the Stacks said Wednesday that so far the inspections have turned up nothing catastrophic. A study by a group called Project Navigator indicated it would cost about $14 million over 50 years to preserve and maintain the stacks, which were built in the 1960s.

Critics of saving the former pollution-laden smokestacks are still raising safety and environmental concerns.

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