About this iReport
  • Not verified by CNN

  • Click to view gailpowell's profile
    Posted February 2, 2013 by
    Chula Vista, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Weekends in America

    More from gailpowell



    I surprised even myself by how early i was willing to get up on a brisk Saturday morning to head down south to Chula Vista and watch an old power plant fall down.


    Yes, that is right--the South Bay Power Plant, aka Dynergy Energy Plant, was set to be blasted to smithereens and the public was invited to watch.


    According to a story in the San Diego Reader, "The Dynegy South Bay energy plant in Chula Vista — described by some environmentalists as a fossil-fuel-burning monster — gets blown sideways early on February 2." People flocked to watch the two-minute event go down at Marina View Park and the traffic quagmire was a sight to see so early as the sun came up.


    The Reader noted that "the plant was built in the late 1950s and went online in 1960; three more units fired up in 1962, 1967, and 1971. At its peak, the plant annually generated 700 megawatts of power and chugged an estimated 5800 tons of emissions into the air." It also sucked up a lot of San Diego Bay water and then discharged it back out into the Bay, which is why the environmentalists despised the plant.


    It was as much a blemish on the southern part of San Diego Bay area as the San Onofre Nuclear Plant--another environmental nemesis--is along the California coast near San Clemente.


    I am not sorry to see the behemoth topple. I used to own a house in Imperial Beach and would ride the South Bay bike trails and walk along the salt marsh dikes where the Power Plant loomed as a physically-imposing marauder ruining the "nature experience" I coveted.


    Yes, we need energy and electricity but the locale of this monster was not well thought out. Since it was built back in the ancient days of the dinosaurs in the 1950's, I suppose that explains it's absurd placement along the idyllic (and now protected) pristine location along southern San Diego Bay. I recall reading that San Diego used to bury it's garbage at a landfill in the 1960's along Mission Bay, where Sea World sits now! Imagine that? What were our city forebearers thinking when they put this stuff right next to the water? San Diego waterfront real estate must not have been too valuable back then.


    So my son and I got down to the J Street Marina while it was still dark. It felt really weird to be driving around that early but the big cups of Starbucks I bought seemed to revitalize us. Luckily, we managed to park in the Chula Vista Marina parking lot before an attendant came out and blocked it off.  Also, lucky for me I had my handicapped parking placard, as that avoids a lot of unpleasant "problems" with parking. It was just a short walk along the bay front path to a nice area with a picnic table where we sat down and watched the sun come up. Although a few pesky trees in front of the power plant blocked some of the view of the demolition, I was just happy to be able to sit down somewhere.


    Plenty of people obviously had the same idea, as cars streamed along into the area and parking spots were at a premium. Cars began to park on the grassy lawn and police had their hands full directing traffic.


    But eventually, 7:00 a.m. rolled around. There were no sirens or anything to announce the blasts except the sight of water being sprayed in big jets on the steel facade. Finally, one blast, then a couple more and yes, there was that "rumbling" sound that reminds many of a big earthquake.


    Sea gulls flew aloft and seemed to be in a panic at the earth-shattering explosions. Car alarms went off in unison as dark clouds of smoke began to drift west and those in attendance started to applaud.


    Really all that is left is a pile of rubble with one chimney still sticking out somewhat. Once the demolition was completed, on-lookers made a mad dash for their cars, as there iare only two one-lane roads that leave the Marina area.


    My son and I were lucky we knew our way around and headed for E Street through the back way, where we could catch Interstate 5 North and avoid a sea of cars.


    It is not everyday that one gets to experience an implosion. I am glad that the city of Chula Vista is finally rid of this scourge on the landscape. The environmentally-sensitive marine habitat of southern San Diego Bay is lucky to have this behemoth gone for good. The only positive thing that can be said of the South Bay Power Plant is that it's discharges warmed the waters of the marshy areas and attracted endangered green turtles into San Diego Bay, where they were safe from predation and seemed to flourish.


    Otherwise, it is adios to the Dynergy Energy Plant, fittingly on Groundhog Day 2013. No longer can it cast it's long, menacing and environmentally-unfriendly shadow on southern San Diego Bay.


    Add your Story Add your Story