Structure demolition resumes at former Asarco lead smelter site

by Eve Byron, Excerpt from Independent Record, reprinted in Billings Gazette

EAST HELENA — Say so long to the Ore Storage and “Barnum and Bailey” buildings at the old Asarco lead smelter site.

This week, crews started dismantling the imposing gray structure, which was built in 1990 to house metal-bearing ore prior to the smelting process. Cindy Brooks, head of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, which is responsible for the cleanup effort, estimated that the Ore Storage building is six stories high and larger than a football field.

Whenever there’s a break in that action, crews with Envirocon, a Missoula-based demolition firm, with turn their attention to the two bright green-and-peach-colored canvas buildings named for their resemblance to circus tents, added Mark Rhodes, an engineer with Hydrometrics.

“Right now they’re working inside of the Ore Storage building, getting the interior structures taken down,” Rhodes said. “They’re also drilling holes on the floors so that when you put the final cap on it, the water doesn’t pond; instead it goes into the ground.”

Once the inside work at the Ore Storage building is complete, Envirocon will use an excavator to start taking bites out of the top of the pre-cast concrete structure. The plan calls for turning the concrete into rubble while removing any rebar for recycling. The rubble will then be used as fill over the Ore Storage’s footprint.

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