Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Southwest Border Symposium

Today is the second day of the Southwest Border Symposium on Air Quality and Climate here in Las Cruces, New Mexico.We are holding this symposium at The Farm and Ranch Museum.

Picture: Farm and Ranch windmill

                                                         Picture: Farm and Ranch Patio
Pre- Symposium:

Last week was a bit hectic trying to get the last things in order, making sure all our speakers were still able to come and talk, computers having a mind of their own, and the million and 1 small things that pop up when trying to organize an event. But, we made it!

Day 1:

The morning began with setting up the computer system through CENTRA which allows high quality web conferencing. Finding out we had more people showing up than was originally planned (which in the end turned out to be wonderful) and the too hot/ too cold phenomenon that happens when a lot of people get into a room together.

The people who showed up were a fantastic wide range of professionals from Dr. Soum Sanogo, NMSU, who talked about fungi to Dr. Ilias Kavouras,  talking about Respiratory health, and out Keynote speaker Dr Jacob McDonald, from Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

A full schedual can be founds at:

We also had a wonderful lunch provided by Dickerson Catering who have been magnificent in giving us anything we need.

Day 2:

We have just started, but it looks to be a productive day. currently we are hearing from Dave Novlan from the National Weather Service discussing Dust Events and how to notify the public.
We are also going to hear from Tom Gill from UTEP, Juan Pedro , and Rosa Fitzgerald, discussing air quality in the border region.

Picture: Dave Novlan, NWS

Friday, April 19, 2013

ASARCO Demolition Video

As we discussed last week on this blog, the New Mexico Climate Center participated in monitoring the destruction of the ASARCO smoke stacks.  Since the ASARCO site is near the City of Sunland Park, NM and since our office is a participant in a larger border air quality study, we were interested in collecting data during this rare event.  In the weeks to come, we hope to have analysis of this event posted to this blog.  In the meantime, here is a video of the demolition.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

ASARCO Demolition

On April 13th 2013 at 6:30am the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) Copper smelting towers in El Paso, Texas will undergo controlled demolition.  Two towers dominate this site; the tallest of the towers is 828 ft and the second tower is 612 feet tall.  This site was active starting in 1887 as a lead smelter, in 1911 it was modified to smelt copper ore, then modified once again in 1948 to smelt zinc ore.  This site was "suspended" in 1999 after ASARCO declared bankruptcy and has been in legal limbo since the shutdown.  This legal limbo of the property is mostly due to the process that is used when refining copper, lead and zinc, the elements involve the use of lead, zinc, cadmium, and arsenic.  These harmful elements could result in negative health effects that could come about once this area is disturbed; for either housing, recreational, or any project that involves soil movement and disturbance of the area surrounding the smelting plant.

The New Mexico Climate Center witch is located at New Mexico State University headed by the New Mexico State Climatologist Dave Dubois, along with his graduate students Rebecca Armenta, Elizabeth Smith, Yizhi Zhao, and staff member Stan Engle plan on performing air quality measurements near the demolition project.

Visual observations will be performed by videotaping the event from 2 locations (EPA offices and UTEP) in El Paso,TX.  Air measurements will be collected at the location of the EPA offices in El Paso and include a Davis weather station to monitor weather, and fungal plates to collect fungi species in the air.   We are planning to collect PM10 concentrations at this location and in Cd. Juarez south of the demo zone.  So far the Juarez Minivol location looks to be well placed based on forecast wind patterns from the north at about 10 mph.  The Minivol Teflon filters from El Paso and Cd. Juarez will be sent to the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada for elemental analysis.  Below is our Minivol sampler in preparation in out office.

We hope this event will be non-eventful and will produce healthy readings for those in the area.  There will be an enormous amount of data after this event, not only from the NMCC but also UTEP engineering department, the contractor, TCEQ, Juarez Air Quality, and numerous other agencies' conducting their own collections.  We hope to have some analysis of this event in a few weeks.