May 25, 2024

What to know about the implosions of the Cheswick Generating Station smokestacks

See it liveWatch the demolition of the smokestacks in Springdale live on the Tribune-Review's Facebook page.What: Facebook Live coverage of the implosionWhen: Starting at 7:50 a.m. Friday, June 2Link:

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Springdale’s biggest attraction — literally — is being imploded Friday, and officials are preparing for its demise.

At 8 a.m. or soon after, the two Cheswick Generating Station smokestacks in Springdale will be imploded. Local law enforcement will coordinate with the Cheswick Plant Environmental Redevelopment Group, the property owner; Grant Mackay Co., the general contractor; and Controlled Demolition Inc., the implosion subcontractor, to bring down the smokestacks at the former power plant property.

The towering structures have been a landmark in the Alle-Kiski Valley for more than 50 years.

Charah Solutions, based in Louisville, Ky., bought the shuttered power plant from owner GenOn Holdings, the last of several owners to generate electricity there. In June 2021, GenOn Holdings announced it was closing the plant. Operations at the plant ceased the following April.

Road closures set

At 7 a.m., Pittsburgh Street will close from Colfax Street in Springdale to South Duquesne Avenue in Cheswick, according to Bruno Moretti, emergency management coordinator for the Allegheny Valley Regional Emergency Management Agency.

He advised travelers to leave early and avoid the area if possible.

Local police departments will enforce the road closures, and people should cooperate with them to prioritize safety, Moretti said.

PennDOT will post detour signs to help motorists navigate around the closures.

Moretti said people who travel by bus should visit Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s website to view the bus reroutes in the area.

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The state’s Fish and Boat Commission will block the Allegheny River to boaters in the area from about 7 a.m. until the implosion is completed, Moretti said.

The Springdale Police Department will set up a “do not enter” zone around the site early Friday, to prevent people from getting too close.

Listen for the siren

Moretti said there will be a long siren blast two minutes before the implosion, and a series of short siren blasts just prior to the countdown.

Both stacks will be imploded at the same time.

Dust expected

Officials said a “small” amount of explosives will be used to fell the two chimneys. The chimneys — one 552 feet tall and the other about 750 feet tall — are expected to drop into the old coal yard north of the property. That area has been cleared so contractors can access the debris to remove it.

Controlled Demolition Inc. has used this method thousands of times over the years, according to a memo sent to adjacent property owners. The Maryland-based company holds world records with its implosions and completed the Three Rivers Stadium demolition in 2001.

Moretti advised that residents should close all windows, doors and air intakes, and cover other openings that might allow dust to enter a building. All exhaust fans should be turned off.

During implosion, dust is released in a matter of seconds and might linger in the general area for four to six minutes. Where that dust goes depends on the weather and the wind that morning, officials said.

Asbestos has been cleared from the property, officials said, and they don’t expect a big dust event.

• Some look back wistfully at Springdale's towering smokestacks, others welcome implosions

Before the demolition, crews will take a photographic survey to document preexisting conditions of adjacent structures and properties, according to the memo. Instruments that measure noise and vibration monitoring will be set up around the demolition to monitor levels generated by the collapse. Soon after the implosion, another survey will be made to determine whether any changes have taken place in the structures.

The memo states noise is an unpreventable byproduct of demolition, but, using CDI’s demolition method, surrounding neighborhoods will experience noise levels similar to a thunderstorm for a couple of seconds.

Project-specific vibration estimates were calculated and found to be within regulatory limits, but people concerned about items hanging on walls or shelves can lay those items on their couches or beds during the implosion, the memo said.

Graham Miller of Grant Mackay Co. said that after the implosion, crews will evaluate the surrounding area and will clean streets if necessary.

“We won’t know any extent of the cleanup until (the implosion) actually happens,” Miller said.

A few homes along Pittsburgh and Porter streets are recommended to evacuate during the implosion, Miller said. People who find dust uncomfortable or irritating, or those with respiratory conditions, might want to leave their homes.

Miller said officials aren’t expecting anything that rainwater wouldn’t wash away on houses or cars.

The last day of school for the Allegheny Valley School District, which covers Springdale and Cheswick, was Wednesday, so students won’t be in district buildings during the implosion, spokeswoman Jan Zastawniak said. School employees working Friday have been notified of the implosion, she said.

Site’s future uncertain

The Springdale station was Allegheny County’s last coal-fired electricity generating plant when it shut down in April 2022, ending a 102-year run of electrical power generation at that site.

The original Duquesne Light plant opened on the site in 1920.

In 1967, the state’s Public Utility Commission approved the construction of a new power generating plant. Three years later, the roughly 750-foot chimney and facility was open for operations.

Talks to install the second, smaller smokestack began in 2006. It was built in 2007.

But what’s next for the property is still undetermined. Springdale’s planning commission in May recommended the property be rezoned to residential, but Charah Solutions requests it remain zoned for industrial or commercial use.

Kellen Stepler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kellen by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

See it liveWatch the demolition of the smokestacks in Springdale live on the Tribune-Review's Facebook page.What: Facebook Live coverage of the implosionWhen: Starting at 7:50 a.m. Friday, June 2Link:

TribLIVE's Daily and Weekly email newsletters deliver the news you want and information you need, right to your inbox.