“…There’s 250 power plants left here in the US. There’s 300 in Canada. There’s 300+ in Europe. If we’re going just by sheer averages on the 1,500 or so power plants that are going to be decommissioned and taken down, you’re looking at another 150 [demolition worker] deaths…”
That is the chilling warning from a highly-respected American demolition professional and it should give the entire industry pause.
Following a spate of fatal accidents on both sides of the Atlantic during the demolition of power stations and boiler houses Joe Vendetti, Senior Vice President of Industrial Services, Integrated Demolition and Remediation Inc has expressed his fears and concerns for the future.
In a hard-hitting and exclusive interview, he calls for the creation of guidance on the demolition of power plants and boiler houses, says that clients need to allow sufficient time and money to undertake this work more safely, and urges his fellow demolition contractors to walk away from projects they believe to be unsafe.
Given that this is unlikely in these unsettled times, Vendetti also calls upon the industry to produce a global guidance on the demolition of power stations and hung boilers.
It is tempting to suggest that this is closing the stable door after several horses have already bolted. However, with somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 power plants still set to come down around the world, there remains an opportunity for the global industry to rally and to prevent further demolition fatalities like those seen at Didcot, Longannet, Killen and countless others that now live in industry infamy.
During the interview, Vendetti also highlights a media misconception over the role of experience. In the immediate aftermath of the Didcot boiler house collapse, Coleman and Company came under enormous criticism and scrutiny because the company had not previously demolished a power station. However, on the other side of the pond where there has been more than a dozen power station demolition deaths, virtually all of them involved companies WITH previous power station experience.
The global demolition industry has a duty of care for the welfare of its workers. But it also has an opportunity to come together and to ensure that those fatalities are not repeated elsewhere. Furthermore, the onus is upon those in the more advanced demolition nations to set in place teachings that can be applied in less developed demolition regions.
If the global industry acts now, it could prevent future power station demolition deaths. If it fails to do so and there are future fatalities – as Vendetti predicts – then it will have no-one to blame but itself.