Impact of demolition of smokestacks on international waters investigated

International commission works with site trustees to prevent contamination

Whitney Burbank, – KVIA ABC7

JUAREZ, Mexico – The ASARCO smokestacks loom above a major resource shared by the United States and Mexico: water.

The International Boundary and Water Commission is working to ensure the demolition of the stacks doesn’t affect surrounding water quality and conveyance, said IBWC spokeswoman Sally Spener.

“The major things were concerned about are impacts to water quality, both for the water and that is used by the people in El Paso as well as those in Ciudad Juarez,” said Spener.

Before the stacks come down on April 13, Spener said a top priority is to make sure the demolition doesn’t contaminate important water sources like the Rio Grande, “One of our important responsibilities in this area is to deliver water to Mexico, Rio Grande water that Mexico is entitled to under treaty and they use it for irrigation in the Juarez Valley.”

In Juarez you can see the ASARCO stacks from the playgrounds and parks that dot the banks of the Rio river banks. Juarenses like 12-year-old Ivan Eduardo even take a dip in the water.

“I like to go swimming here with my family,” said Ivan. “I wouldn’t want anything to make the water unsafe.”

“We’ve been working with the trustees for quite a period of time, because we have similar interests in clean up,” said Spener.

Monday IBWC officials met with ASARCO trustees to review the demolition process, but Spener said the commission is, “still reviewing the information the trustee has provided to us. So we haven’t made any decisions or rendered any final opinions.”

ASARCO trustee Roberto Puga did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

According to Spener, site trustees are making preparations to protect water quality. For example, on demolition day, Spener said trustees plan to cover a portion of the American Canal to protect it from any debris.