Chula Vista prepares for implosion of South Bay Power Plant

Plant implosion to happen Feb. 2 at 7AM

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The South Bay Power Plant is scheduled to be imploded Saturday morning to clear the way for development along Chula Vista's bayfront.

TIMELINE: South Bay Power Plant

The plant was built in the late 1950s and first began producing energy in 1960, according to the port. However, it has long been an eyesore along the city's otherwise picturesque shoreline.

"I've been waiting a long time and I'll believe it when I see it," said Chula Vista resident Sylvia Felan-Gonzales.

The facility was shut down at the end of 2010. Since then, work crews have removed asbestos, disconnected electrical lines and taken out fuel.

The implosion -- which will make the structure collapse inward -- is set for 7 a.m. and is expected to take about two minutes. The event could be scrubbed if winds are greater than 15 mph.

To bring down the 160-foot plant, 10News learned crews will use 200 pounds of detonating charges to set off more than 300 pounds of dynamite, and project managers said they will blow out the bottom of the structure, forcing the boilers to collapse.

"People who come down to see it will hear the steel bend and creak and will hear sort of a rolling thunder as all of this happens," said Kristine Zortman with the San Diego Port District.

Environmental agents will be on hand at the implosion making sure the wild life that surrounds the plant will not be disrupted by the demolition.

Public viewing areas have been set up on the south side of Marina Way, according to the San Diego Port District.

The agency says a 24-acre public park is slated for the land, along with a recreational vehicle park, an industrial development and 25 acres of open space.

"After the years of hard work that went into the approval of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, the plant's removal will kick start redevelopment plans as we look forward to further progress on what will become a world-class destination for the entire region," Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said.

Chula Vista City Councilwoman Mary Salas, who grew up in the Harborside neighborhood of Chula Vista, watched the plant being built.

"I remember my father trying to organize neighbors to fight it, but it was too late, the plant was being built. I know if he were alive today he would be very happy to see this come down," Salas said.

The implosion is being arranged by the plant's former operator, Dynegy South Bay LLC.

The port says heavy equipment will break up the resulting wreckage, which could include about 21,000 tons of recyclable metals and up to 3,400 tons of other non-hazardous waste, which will be recycled and salvaged when feasible.

The Port of San Diego invites members of the public to witness the implosion of the South Bay Power Plant at 7 a.m. on Feb. 2. Click to here for a map of the public viewing area.

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