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Murray smokestacks to come down Aug. 6

SHARE Murray smokestacks to come down Aug. 6

If everything goes according to plan, Murray's famed smokestacks will topple at 9 a.m. Aug. 6, wiping away forever Salt Lake Valley's most visible symbols of the mining industry.

It promises to be a sad day for Susan Wright, owner of the century-old Murray Mansion.

"It's just a crime that people don't realize the value of them," Wright said. "They're historic landmarks."

Although historian Su Richards doesn't want to see the two smokestacks destroyed, she said the history will be preserved in a video done by Murray city.

The 450- and 300-foot smokestacks near 5300 S. State are being imploded to make way for the proposed Chimney Ridge commercial-retail development, a nearly $100 million project.

Before development can begin, the Environmental Protection Agency had to approve a demolition plan.

After months of work, EPA last week approved a work plan for the demolition of Murray's smokestacks on the former American Smelting and Refining Co. site.

The approval came as a surprise to Murray City Councilman John Rush.

"I was told (EPA) was looking at Aug. 6 but the air-quality monitoring issue was sticky," he said.

Because the two smokestacks contain arsenic and lead and asbestos near the top of the tall stack, EPA and the former owners, Hi-Ute Buehner, have been carefully planning the demolition to ensure the contaminants don't coat the landscape. This has resulted in repeated delays since last spring.

"We didn't want any mistakes," EPA spokeswoman Eleanor Dwight said. "We're happy now."

The biggest point of contention was to make sure there was sufficient water suppression to control the dust and that the trenches were built deep enough to handle the huge stacks.

Water sprinklers will soak the entire area before and after the blasts to control the dust from the collapse.

Demolition of the stacks will likely be a dramatic event, drawing hundreds of spectators and forcing a temporary closure of State Street between Vine Street and 5300 South. Nearby neighborhood streets will be closed, and spectators won't be allowed within 1,000 feet of the demolition, Dwight said.

"There's going to be a lot of people," she said. "I imagine people will come early."

But, she added, "I don't want to encourage people to come out." Police will detour traffic, and the area will be heavily secured.

About 20 households will be evacuated and the homeowners put up for two nights in a hotel. The windows and doors of homes near the site will be sealed.

Engineered Demolition Technology in Hayden Lake, Idaho, has been hired to demolish the stacks. The company will set explosive charges strategically placed at the base so the smokestacks can fall into big trenches that are currently under construction. The stacks will fall to the north, so it's likely the tallest one will be toppled first, Dwight said. The second will tumble behind it seconds later.

The stacks won't explode, Dwight said. "They will fall like big trees."

E-mail: donna@desnews.com