A weather tower, a concrete chimney and two steel boilers were demolished in seconds with controlled explosions at a disused power station in Sardinia, leaving 8,000 tonnes of rubble and twisted metal.
More than a year in planning, with test blasts conducted in Spain, the operation was intended to avoid thousands of hours of manual toil at height.
The two old oil units of EP Produzione’s thermoelectric plant in Fiume Santo were permanently shut down in December 2013, after having supplied energy to the Italian island since the 1980s.
The 150-m-high chimney had to fall the right way
Decommissioning has been underway since, but specialist consulting engineers from UK-headquartered RVA Group were appointed a year ago to speed things up with 50kg of explosives.
A 100m weather tower, a 150m reinforced concrete chimney and two, 50-m-high steel boilers weighing 2,000 tonnes were demolished in only five seconds each.
Using a shaped-charge technique specified for the boiler demolition, RVA worked with explosives contractor Tecnomine and blasting project leader, a Mr. Mikula, to develop the methodology, said RVA Group’s press release.
Test blasts were also attended in Spain to refine the explosives design before the blowdowns took place.
Weather tower ready for scrap
Commenting on the project, RVA’s explosives expert Charles Moran said: "Explosives engineering was the preferred technique for these assets because of the height of the structures. It was considered safer to demolish them remotely, than expose employees to thousands of unnecessary hours working at height.
"Given the complexity of the project and the several counterparties involved, a constant dialogue was needed with local and national institutional bodies responsible for environmental authorisations and the import of the explosives. Our technical knowledge and experience was certainly placed under scrutiny".
Of the approximately 8000 tonnes of resulting material, all has been recycled, with the concrete processed through a local crushing plant and the steel being sent for scrap. Main contractor AVE – based in the Czech Republic – is now dismantling the remains of the boiler and clearing up the wider site.
Images courtesy of RVA Group