The cooling towers at the shut down Chapelcross nuclear power plant near Annan, UK, were demolished in a control explosion on 20 May.
The four 90-metre high cooling towers were reduced to 25,000 tonnes of rubble in ten seconds following controlled explosions that had taken more than a year of planning and preparation. Just 50 kilograms of explosives were used, placed in some 1500 holes. The project drew thousands of spectators and was broadcast live on the internet. A 200-metre exclusion zone was enforced around the plant.
British Nuclear Group (BNG), the contractor responsible for carrying out decommissioning of the site, said, "This was the first time that an explosive demolition of this scale has been carried out within a nuclear licensed site and has demonstrated that this type of work can be carried out safely and effectively amongst one of the world's most controlled and regulated working environments."
Chapelcross Site Manager Mike Travis said, "We appreciate that many in the local community had a great affection for the towers and we understand that there is some sadness now they've gone. The demolition, however, marks the beginning of a new stage in the life of the site and signals that there is much work to come over the years in safely decommissioning the site."
Work will now start to clear the debris and separate the steel reinforcing bars from the concrete ready to be sent for recycling. The concrete will be crushed and used as infill, restoring a level surface to the site. The Chapelcross reactors and the surrounding buildings will be fully decommissioned in 2018. Construction of the four Magnox gas-cooled reactors began in 1955, with the units entering operation in 1959 and 1960. All four reactors were shut down in June 2004.
British Nuclear Group
Footage and further details of the demolition are available on the chapelcrosscoolingtowers.com website
WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper
WNA's Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities information paper