A power plant demolition in the District of Columbia has gone smoothly using traditional demolition coupled with the right equipment combination.
The once coal-, then oil-fired Benning Road Power Plant in the District of Columbia, owned and operated by Pepco Energy Services since 2000, is in the process of being demolished. NorthStar, the general contractor selected by Pepco for the project, is a demolition-environmental firm that was recently formed by the merging of LVI Services Inc. of New York City, and NCM Group Holdings Inc. of Brea, California.
Founded in 1986, LVI is known as an industry leader of environmental remediation, deconstruction and decommissioning and emergency response services; and over the years, NCM has become a reputable demolition, dismantling, asset and scrap recovery, remediation and disaster response contractor. Together as NorthStar, the companies tackle challenging commercial, government, and industrial projects with a unique blend of expertise and an extensive set of services.
Constructed in 1906, the Benning Road Power Plant occupies approximately 25 percent of the Pepco facility’s 77 acres. As a supplier of most of the power in the District of Columbia area, Pepco Energy Services eliminated the need for the electricity generated by the Benning Power Plant by adapting to newer developments and upgrading its transmission grid. Pepco ceased operation of the plant in 2012, placing it into an idle, cold-closure state, and decided to demolish the facility the following year.
Company Wrench, Carroll, Ohio, provided NorthStar with exclusive services to successfully complete the project and to increase productivity on-site. NorthStar has had experience with Company Wrench in the past and, as the general contractor, asked for Company Wrench to aid in the planning and demolition of the Benning Road Power Plant project.
Company Wrench, which operates in 10 locations across seven states, specializes in the manufacturing, sales, rentals, parts and service of scrap, demolition and construction equipment. All equipment on site at the Benning Road Power Plant, with the exception of one machine, was provided to NorthStar through a rental-purchase agreement by Company Wrench’s Williamstown, New Jersey, facility. Company Wrench provided NorthStar with excavators from Houston-based Kobelco.
“The power plant demo is a rough job,” explains Michael Gilmartin, northeast regional manager of Company Wrench. “The Kobelco excavators are great because they keep the operators in a comfortable position for extended periods of time.”
In addition to Kobelco excavators, including the SK850, SK500 and SK350, Company Wrench also provided nine attachments to NorthStar through which the company has found increased productivity. The attachments consist of LaBounty MSD 3000R and MSD 4000R shears; multiple hammers including a massive, second member 16,000-pound hammer; two patented Dust Destroyers; and multiple pulverizers.
“The attachments we’re using not only help us get the job done, but they help us get the job done faster,” explains Nick Bucci, assistant project manager for NorthStar.
NorthStar not only requested that Company Wrench provide a recommendation of equipment, but also asked for a proposal regarding the most efficient way to dismantle the power plant.
“An added bonus to the demolition is that all materials are being recycled on site,” says Gilmartin.
Phases of demolition
The demolition entails a series of activities including taking down structures using conventional mechanical equipment, clearing of demolition debris and regrading the site. A controlled implosion had been planned for a portion of the demolition, but because of the success of traditional methods of demolition, Pepco was able to use conventional methods to demolish the entire power plant and maintain the projected schedule of completing the project by spring 2015.
The demolition team has completed the safe removal of all asbestos-containing materials from the power plant structures. Once the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issued a raze permit, crews began conventional demolition in September 2014. That phase is complete, and all structures and boilers have been demolished.
A real-time air-monitoring system is operating at the site and will continue to do so until the backfill operation begins. The demolition has been coordinated, scheduled and approved through all the required federal, state and local regulatory agencies.
Dismantling of the power plant can be grouped into the following phases:
- Phase 1: Dismantling of the cooling towers (September 2013 — December 2013) - Crews completed dismantling of the two cooling towers adjacent to the power plant in December 2013. These structures were made primarily of wood, plastic, fiberglass and steel, so conventional methods of demolition — including hammers, shears and heavy equipment — were used. The work was performed with all of the required regulatory, environmental and local agency permits.
- Phase 2: Demolition of the Benning Power Plant buildings and equipment (November 2013 — spring 2015) - The second phase of the project focused on the conventional dismantling of most of the main power plant structures, including all five smokestacks and buildings that housed the power plant equipment. The first step in Phase 2 was the removal of asbestos and other potentially hazardous building materials from all of the power plant structures under carefully controlled conditions.
- Phase 3: Restoration (spring 2015) - Pepco is now processing steel for recycling, which will be followed by backfilling of the foundation and then grading of the area. At the completion of the project, the site will be inspected and all construction equipment then will be removed.
A majority of the conventional demolition on site, from tearing down structures that are more than 50 feet high to moving 300 ton turbines, is being done using Kobelco’s 181,440-pound SK850 mass excavator. The utilization of the SK850 combined with Company Wrench’s exclusive dual pin boom gives the excavator an additional 8 feet of height, bringing the machine’s extended height to 35 feet, 1 inch, giving it a maximum reach of 44 feet. The dual pin boom allows operators to reach heights that are not accessible with smaller machines.
Gilmartin says, “The operators like the flexibility Kobelco excavators provide in addition to how smooth they run compared to other brands.”
Demolitions have several benefits and the Benning Road Power Plant in the District of Columbia is no exception. Owned and operated by Pepco Energy Services since 2000, the plant was shuttered in 2012 and placed into an inoperable state. Pepco cites several benefits to the community from the shutdown and dismantling of the outdated plant including:
- elimination of air emissions from burning of fuel oil at the power plant;
- elimination of fuel oil storage and oil truck deliveries;
- removal of the visual impact of the power plant and the smoke stacks; and
- removal of any hazardous materials in the power plant.
Exclusive Company Wrench attachments also are yielding increased productivity. “The patented second-member hammer is a beast,” Bucci says. “It’s helping us get through the challenging project of pulverizing pedestals that are over 100 years old and made of concrete 2 feet deep with metal underneath.”
Bucci adds, “The entire process with Company Wrench has been very instrumental. Their sales and service team got the Kobelco machines on site quickly. We started a month behind schedule but quickly caught up to where we needed to be because of the top-notch, efficient equipment Company Wrench recommended and is providing to us.”
Although Company Wrench has represented many brands over the years, Kobelco remains one of its strongest. “We have had excellent experiences with Kobelco,” says Gilmartin. “Its excavators are not only reliable, but the company has outstanding customer service.”
Pepco says it is committed to working safely and respectfully in the neighborhood and will continue to work diligently to minimize the impact of the power plant demolition project on residents in surrounding communities.
Pepco Energy Services says its commitment to the community is to ensure that the dismantling of the power plant is conducted safely and in compliance with all applicable government regulations standards and permitting requirements. Pepco site supervisors, contractors and security and safety teams have established appropriate procedures to monitor all work activities and prevent potential hazards. The company also has shown its commitment to keeping the community informed about this powe plant demolition project every step of the way. In addition to community meetings, information and updates also are available at www.benningservicecenter.com.
Project map restoration is the final phase of the controlled plan, which involves grading and leveling the ground surface of where the plant once stood. This phase is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015.
Information in this article was provided by Houston-based Kobelco (www.kobelco-usa.com) and by Pepco Energy Services, Washington. A version of this article appeared in the Demolition Supplement to the March/April 2015 issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling, a sister publication to Recycling Today.