Case Studies for Power & Utilities

Explosive Demolition of Two Cooling Towers at Blackburn Meadows, Sheffield for E.ON UK Plc

Description of Works:

The demolition of two cooling towers using explosives to generate a collapse mechanism with particular emphasis on the collapse being away from the M1 viaduct and the charge weights limited to reduce air over pressure. After collapse, the work involved the crushing of the towers and the removal and crushing of the tower ponds and foundations to a depth of three metres.

Owing to the high profile of this project and the close proximity (twelve metres) to the M1 viaduct, Robinson & Birdsell Ltd were required to hold numerous public and stakeholder meetings to demonstrate the feasibility of such a complex undertaking.

These meetings were undertaken often at short notice due to stakeholders concerns and we were instrumental in enabling our client to carry out the demolition.

Location:   Blackburn Meadows Cooling Towers, Sheffield

Scope:   Demolition of two cooling towers

Client:   E.ON UK Plc

Explosive Demolition of Five Cooling Towers, Crushing and Removal of Arisings at High Marnham Power Station, Newark for E.ON UK Plc

Description of Works:

After competitive tender, E.ON UK instructed Robinson & Birdsell Ltd to undertake the explosive demolition of five redundant cooling towers at their High Marnham Power Station site.

The scope involved removing some 22,000mᶟ of asbestos contaminated crushed materials from within the five cooling tower ponds, crushing 20,000mᶟ of concrete resulting from the tower blow down, and recovering the re-bar, then finally loading 40,000mᶟ of PFA back to the ponds for blending and landscaping.

As E.ON UK were required to surrender the Site Waste Management Licences back to the Environment Agency it was essential that robust tracking during the project was maintained and recorded, along with frequent analysis of all the materials handled.

The project was therefore effectively split into two phases; explosive demolition phase, and crushing and tracking phase.

During March 2012 the Robinson & Birdsell Ltd explosives team led by John Turner moved onto site and established secure boundaries. Test blasts were undertaken on the tower shells and legs in order to establish charge ratios and protection levels. Following the test blasts, drilling the shells and the towers started immediately and was resourced appropriately to achieve a blowdown date.

Digging out the potentially contaminated crushed material also commenced, enabling uninterrupted access to the drilling teams.

Vibration and air over-pressure predictions were prepared and submitted with particular attention to the neighbouring National Grid compound and overhead cables running twenty metres from towers five, three and two. Even allowing for the discovery of a fledgling Peregrine Falcon which was monitored closely by English Nature during the works, all preparation works were undertaken within programme.

Meanwhile Robinson & Birdsell Ltd’s highly experienced Blast Co-ordinator, having managed hundreds of exclusion zones, was diligently developing a bespoke Sequence of Events for blow down. His work included public meetings for all stakeholders, regular interface with all neighbours, letter drops and regular communication and meetings with the relevant utilities and authorities.

Having previously identified badger setts close to the cooling towers, ecologists were on hand, from dawn on the day of blow down, to plug the sett entrances with sacks of straw, thus keeping the animals safely inside and protecting them from any dust generated. These were then unblocked a few hours later following the ‘all clear’ given by Robinson & Birdsell Ltd.

After finally receiving the instruction to proceed, the team undertook all charging and connections within the required time, enabling the spectacular sequence of collapses to take place on the agreed date, within a fully secure and patrolled exclusion zone, in what was a ‘text book’ controlled explosion.

The second phase of crushing and tracking all resultant materials was overseen by a Waste Management Industry Training Advisory Board (WAMITAB) certified consultant. This ensured that all requirements for a Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) protocol and the client’s waste management licence were adhered to and evidenced. As a significant amount of material had been sampled as asbestos contaminated, Robinson & Birdsell Ltd developed a solution acceptable to the Environment Agency that enabled E.ON to leave the material on site and surrender the licence.

Again, even allowing for this with evidenced tracking, background monitoring, analysis, training and resource, the second phase was completed to programme and budget.

Location:   High Marnham Power Station, Newark, Notts

Scope:    Explosive Demolition of Five Cooling Towers, Crushing and Removal of Arisings

Client:   E.ON UK Plc

Complete Demolition of Major Power Stations, Ireland, Including Cooling Towers and Chimneys

Description of Works:

Robinson & Birdsell Ltd is proud to have worked with ESB (Ireland Electricity Board) for over a decade. The company has demolished all their redundant power stations tendered over this period and developed a strong mutual relationship which assisted these highly technical and complex projects.

The company required utilisation of all its disciplines, from; early planning, design and demolition, explosives engineering and full use of its recycling knowledge and markets. Robinson & Birdsell Ltd has also carried out the demolition of seven cooling towers for ESB, numerous small demolition contracts and has successfully won tenders for significant land remediation contracts.

The power stations demolished are listed below:

Shannonbridge Power Station

Lanesborough Power Station

Rhode Power Station

Allenwood Power Station

Portalington Power Station

Ferbane Power Station

Bellacorrick Power Station

Arigna Power Station

Ringsend Power Station


Location: Ireland

Client: ESB (Ireland Electricity Board)