Crews implode South Bay Power Plant

Implosion occurred just after 7 a.m.

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

VIDEOSouth Bay Power Plant comes down

IMAGESImplosion of South Bay Power Plant

TIMELINESouth Bay Power Plant

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

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 made the structure collapse inward -- occurred just after 7 a.m. and lasted about 30 seconds.

To bring down the 160-foot plant, 10News learned crews used 200 pounds of detonating charges to set off more than 300 pounds of dynamite. The implosion left behind piles of twisted metal and debris.

Thousands of people lined the sidewalk of the public viewing area to say goodbye to a huge part of Chula Vista's history.

Stanley Otto told 10News he worked at the plant for 30 years as a mechanic.

He said when the plant closed, he knew it would be a matter of time before he would have to watch the demolition of the building.

"You could hear the boom," he said. "When I was listening to it, I thought maybe it's built too strong… and then all of a sudden, here it goes. It was quite an event."

For Lauro Vega, the plant had a special place in his heart. His father had worked there while he was growing up.

"I got to attend the opening ceremonies when I was 6 years old," he said. "So over the years, it's something I knew that stood there and that my father had worked on it."

After losing his father last year, Vega said showing up to the demolition was his way of saying goodbye.

Environmental agents were on hand at the implosion making sure the wildlife that surrounds the plant will not be disrupted by the demolition. The implosion was arranged by the plant's former operator, Dynegy South Bay LLC.

Port officials say 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, where feasible.

With the toppling of the power plant, the city of Chula Vista can now focus all of its attention on its ambitious 550-acre Bayfront Master Plan.

The Unified Port of San Diego says it will take about 20 years to build out, but it will create 7,000 jobs and generate $11.5 million in tax revenue for Chula Vista.  The project includes the land where the power plant currently is a pile of rubble.

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.

"Well, this community deserves nice facilities and unfortunately often times it doesn't get them," said Rep. Juan Vargas, who represents the state's 51st congressional district. "A lot of the nice facilities go north."

Ninety acres will be dedicated to new park land and 148 acres will be open space for wildlife. It will also include 1,500 condos, a massive 2,000-room hotel resort and convention center, three smaller hotels, shopping and restaurants. It will completely revamp Chula Vista's bayfront.

"I mean, it's the type of development that Chula Vista has been hoping for their bayfront for well over 40 years," said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox. 

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