Towers' implosion Saturday will set world record

With rain threatening, Brayton Point owners still plan 8 a.m. demolition

By Ted Hayes
Posted 4/25/19

After towering over Mt. Hope Bay for a decade, the bells toll this weekend for the two massive Brayton Point power plant cooling towers, which are scheduled to be imploded at approximately 8 a.m. …

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Towers' implosion Saturday will set world record

With rain threatening, Brayton Point owners still plan 8 a.m. demolition

Posted

After towering over Mt. Hope Bay for a decade, the bells toll this weekend for the two massive Brayton Point power plant cooling towers, which are scheduled to be imploded at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday, April 27.
The 500-foot towers in Somerset cost $600 million to build and are visible from as far away as the mouth of Narragansett Bay in Newport. Their violent destruction will be quick — the demolition firm bringing them down said it will take less than 10 seconds — and will set a world record, as they are the tallest cooling towers ever to be imploded worldwide.
Saturday's implosion promises to be one of the most viewed and photographed events in this area in years. Workers in the Somerset building and planning office said hotels in their town and nearby Ocean Grove in Swansea are booked up, and residents from Touisset Point to Bristol, across Mt. Hope Bay in Tiverton, and south to Portsmouth, are hosting viewing parties and events in their homes, on local beaches and public rights of way to the water.
The former power plant's owner, Commercial Development Company Inc. (CDC), has been working with police, local harbormasters and the Coast Guard, National Grid and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, to make sure the demolition goes smoothly and safely. Officials expect rolling road blocks, road closures, maritime traffic control and other safety measures (see below). In addition, an exclusion zone will be set up around the site on the morning of the implosion, and that zone will be in place until the demolition contractor, Controlled Demolition Inc., gives the OK.
The towers' construction was ordered by the EPA more than 20 years ago as a way to combat abnormally high water temperatures in Mt. Hope Bay created by the release of heated wastewater from Brayton Point, which was once the largest coal-fired power plant in New England. The plant, which was built in 1957, stopped producing power in 2017 and was purchased by CDC the following January. Demolition of the plant commenced last fall.

What to expect
Here are some answers to questions you might have on the implosion, and how to enjoy it safely, provided by CDC:

What about bad weather?
If there is an electrical storm, winds stronger than 25 miles per hour, or a dramatic shift in wind direction headed towards residences, west or east, implosion may be delayed, but not by more than 24 hours.

How do I know it's coming?
The implosion is set for approximately 8 a.m. Two minutes before detonation, two long sirens will blast to indicate a two-minute countdown. At one minute prior to detonation, a series of short siren blasts will be heard. Approximately five minutes after the implosion , one long siren blast will be heard to indicate "all clear." At that point, roads and waterways will begin to be reopened.

Will the implosion be loud?
At nearby residences, the sound level will reach 120 to 135 decibels, similar to a thunderclap or fireworks.

Will there be vibrations as the towers come down?
In a word, no. However, vibration sensors will be placed around Brayton Point to confirm the actual vibration levels.

Will there be flying debris?
No. The cooling towers will fall in place.

What about a dust cloud?
Heavy particulate dust is not expected to stray more than 200 feet from the base of the towers and should clear in about five minutes. Lighter dust is expected to clear the site in a few minutes and will travel southeast over Mt. Hope Bay, toward Fall River. It will dissipate before reaching the far shore. For residents who live nearby and have respiratory or breathing issues, "it is suggested to shut all doors and windows and stay inside from 8 a.m. until up to 15 to 30 minutes following the 'all clear' signal."

What about traffic control?
* Rolling roadblocks controlled by Massachusetts State Police will occur on I-195 in both directions, and on Route 24. They will last approximately 15 minutes.
* Certain entrance ramps onto I-195 in the direction of each rolling roadblock will be closed for about 15 minutes.
* In Somerset, portions of Route 103, Brayton Point Road and Lees River Avenue will be closed to through traffic.
* In Swansea, New Gardners Neck Road, Cliff Avenue, Ocean Grove Avenue, Anthony Avenue and Church Street will be closed to through traffic.

What are boating regulations?
The US Coast Guard and harbormasters from Somerset and Fall River will control water traffic around the site to keep boaters away. Orange buoys will be placed in the water to denote the perimeter boundaries. No boats of any kind will be allowed to beach on the Brayton Point coastline.

I have a drone. What about filming?
The use of drones and helicopters to film the implosion will be restricted by the exclusion zone perimeters. Helicopters must remain a half milke out from the cooling towers and fly no lower than 3,000 feet.

What's next for the site?
CDC, which has purchased and redeveloped other similar power plants, plans to turn the 308-acre site into the "Brayton Point Commerce Center," which CDC marketing director John Kowalik termed a "world class logistics port, manufacturing hub and support center for the emerging offshore wind energy sector."
“We believe the outstanding logistical attributes of Brayton Point combined with public support for energy diversification has created a historic opportunity to help advance the offshore wind energy sector with this development,” added Stephen Collins, CDC's executive vice president. “The acreage available will also give the Brayton Point Commerce Center that capacity to accommodate other industries as well.”
For more on future plans for the site, click here.

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