After extensive consultation and planning, the Athlone cooling towers are to be demolished on Sunday 22 August 2010 at 12:00.
Both towers form part of the decommissioned Athlone coal-fired power station and have become unsafe following the collapse of the strengthening rings around one of them in February. They now need to be demolished in the interests of public safety.The City’s Disaster Risk Management team is monitoring wind speeds, which could cause the towers to collapse, on a daily basis and has a plan in place should they become excessive.
It was decided last week that the towers will come down on Sunday 22 August, as this is a realistic date by which all safety measures can be in place and by when Jet Demolition indicated they will have all their preparation work for the demolition completed. The demolition is not weather dependent and can go ahead even if it rains on the day.
Various City Departments have worked together closely to ensure the demolition will be safe for the public, the surrounding areas and City services.
All the required permits and approvals have been obtained and the necessary site preparation is underway, with particular attention being given to the protection of existing services and safety of both the public and workers involved.
The City’s Disaster Risk Management team has compiled a comprehensive disaster risk management plan, which will be followed to ensure the City is prepared for any foreseen emergency that might occur during the demolition process. It will also ensure that the City will be able to act rapidly and effectively to any unexpected incidents that may occur during the demolition.
As numerous roads in the area surrounding the towers, including the N2, will be closed for a few hours on the day, demolishing the towers at 12:00 on a Sunday will minimise traffic disruption as it makes provision for morning traffic volumes and afternoon weekend-ending traffic volumes. Metro rail will also need to close some train lines for a few hours on the day and indicated that closing their lines at noon will cause the least inconvenience to their Sunday customers. Demolishing the towers on a Sunday will also give the public the opportunity to witness the historic event.
The City’s disaster risk management plan makes provision for all the necessary traffic and safety arrangements for the day of the demolition. More detail on the traffic management plan for the day will be communicated to the public closer to the demolition day.
Between now and 22 August, the contractor will secure and protect existing services and drill over 3 000 holes per tower into which the explosive charges will be placed. Although not required by law to prepare an Environmental Management Plan, the consultants compiled one to ensure the safety of the public and the surrounding environment.
New nests have already been placed on the building next to the tower to accommodate the pair of falcons that have been resident on the cooling towers since the 1980s. The birds have already started showing an interest in their new homes.
The eventual re-use of the site in terms of a process for which a final decision has yet to be taken will allow the power station site to be redeveloped in full, to the benefit of the whole area.