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Shukhov Tower saved…for now

Conservationists claim victory in battle over Moscow landmark.

The conservationist group Arkhnadzor on Wednesday announced that the planned demolition of Moscow’s iconic 160 metre tall Shukhov Tower had been cancelled, though the Communications and Mass Media Ministry warned it could still be slated for demolition in the future.

“We’re not flat-out rejecting the idea of demolishing the tower, but since right now no one wants to resolve this problem holistically, we will take extreme measures to strengthen the tower,” Deputy Communications and Mass Media minister Alexei Volin said, Interfax reported

Volin said that although the demolition was postponed for the time being, the tower would probably still need to be taken down within a few years.

Earlier on Wednesday, Arkhnadzor sent out a press release saying that the group had received a letter from the ministry implying that “the idea of demolishing and moving the tower to a different place is no longer relevant” following a government meeting held on June 16.

The group said the ministry had “finally admitted that the project on the demolition and transfer of the Shukhov Tower developed by the ministry was not supported by the Culture Ministry or the Government of Moscow.”

The tower’s potential demolition, an idea first floated in December, prompted a major outcry from preservationists who said that moving the structure would likely destroy it.

Read more here.

Demolition of Battersea stacks to start…

Demolition of first of four iconic chimneys imminent.

Demolition of the first of Battersea Power Station’s chimneys will start in two weeks, the developer has confirmed.

It will take five months to dismantle the 50m high structure. Its replacement will be complete by next summer, said Philip Gullett, chief operating officer at the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

A rig encircling the south-western and oldest chimney is already in place and will slowly ascend next week, ready to start chewing up the reinforced concrete from the top down.

Yesterday the engineer in charge of the £11 million deconstruction and reconstruction of all four chimneys explained exactly how it will happen.

Justin Phillips, a partner at Buro Happold, said four hydraulic crushers would destroy the grade II* chimney six inches at a time.

The debris will be tipped down the inside of the chimney and reused on site, possibly for roads. This method was selected over conventional demolition as it allows work to continue on the rest of the site.

The final 10m of each chimney are hidden within the 65m brick washtowers which are currently being strengthened and repaired.

Once deconstruction of the first chimney has been completed work will begin to rebuild it using exactly the same method and almost identical materials. It should emerge from its washtower four or five months after the original disappears from view.

Read more here.

Comment – I hate to say I told you so…

Eight percent rise in site deaths. Now, back to the day job.

It is just over two weeks since I described the modern demolition worker as expendable. In typical industry fashion, this was greeted with private messages of congratulations on a point well made; private condemnation from those for whom, seemingly, industry image is of far greater import; and a great tumbleweed of silence from the industry at large.

And now – quite possibly to a similar welcome – the UK’s Health and Safety Executive has released its annual site death statistics (the fact that this requires an annual announcement is surely indicative of the depth of the issue).

Between construction and demolition, we managed to snuff out the lives of 42 workers last year. For some decent-sized and well-respected demolition companies, that figure would represent an entire workforce.

Maybe if that was the case, the reaction would be different. There would be an outpouring of grief and support; calls for systemic change; and a root and branch overhaul of the training regime that continues to send men (and women) to their deaths.

That, sadly, is not the case. These deaths are spread over a wide geographic area; across a 12-month time period. They are occasional blips and anomalies. And then there’s the whole “demolition stats lumped in with construction” chestnut that is bandied about ad infinitum about this time of year as if that makes demolition seem like a lavender-scented embrace from a kindly aunt.

However, the industry should be careful what it wishes for as any separation of demolition and construction site death stats would surely cast an ugly shadow upon this industry of ours. Any site death is tragic, avoidable and sad. But one death out of the million plus people employed within construction is such a tiny percentage that it’s on a par with the number of people killed each year by their own trousers. One death out of the 10,000 or so employed within demolition is quite another matter; marking the sector as one of the most dangerous per number of employees in industry. Let us not forget that the two deaths that occurred at last week’s Glastonbury music festival made front page news.

Unfortunately and short of some kind of divine intervention – like the Glastonbury festival – we will be back here again next year, lamenting further site deaths and temporarily scratching our collective beards over how this keeps happening.

If you actually want to KNOW why this keeps happening, click here.

Video – St Nicholas House succumbs to Safedem might…

Former home of Aberdeen City Council reduced to rubble.

Mention the name Safedem in demolition circles and most people will think of tower block implosions. But there’s more to the Dundee-based contractors than whizz-bang blasts.

In fact, the company is currently demonstrating its mechanical demolition prowess on the former home of Aberdeen City Council, St Nicholas House.

Check out the video below:

Video – Near death experience…

Man narrowly escapes death as fly-rock is ejected from factory blast.

A spectator at the demolition of a textiles factory in the Czech Republic came terrifyingly close to a potentially fatal blow from a stray rock that exploded from the site.

A rock about the size of a grapefruit hurtles at a man and a woman in a video posted on YouTube, also narrowly missing the person filming it.

Buildings belonging to clothing company OP Prostejov were being demolished, which formed the largest Czech textiles factory.

Read more here or view the astonishing video below:

TDS steps up investment…

Tony Tapperell invests six-figure sum in fleet upgrade.

Wirral-based demolition specialist Technical Demolition Services (TDS) is to invest in new large machinery after securing a six-figure funding deal with bankers.

The Birkenhead-based business is involved in a range of demolition and dismantling projects throughout the UK including the current demolition of Whtttingham Hospital near Preston which was once Europe’s largest mental institution.

It was founded in 1983 and has carried out projects for many major blue-chip public and private sector organisations in petroleum, power, chemical and regeneration in the UK and worldwide including Cyprus, Trinidad, Greece and Spain.

Now, after securing the credit line with NatWest and the bank’s asset finance manager, Lombard, TDS is able to purchase five or six new machines and fund its longer-term plans.

The firm, which employs 120 people, has secured more than £12m of contracts during the first half of 2014 and is hoping to reach a similar figure for the second half of the year. It is also looking at an assortment of projects for the upcoming year.

Managing director Tony Taperell said: “The machines will be used up and down the country including the current project we are undertaking in Preston. It’s a busy time for us and the machines will definitely help us meet our current and future demands.”

Technical Demolition Services currently employs 120 people across the UK.

Read more here.

No bail for Philly collapse contractor…

Accused pair could face years in jail before trial.

A judge has denied a motion seeking bail for Griffin Campbell, a demolition contractor awaiting trial on murder charges in last year’s fatal Center City building collapse.

Campbell, 50, is charged with six counts of third-degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and other offences. He has been in jail since the District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against him in late November.

He was the contractor overseeing demolition of a building next to a Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets when a wall from the building fell onto the thrift shop June 5, 2013, killing six people and injuring 13 others.

Neither Campbell nor co-defendant and excavator operator Sean Benschop appeared in court. But Campbell’s wife, mother, stepfather and more than a dozen other family members and longtime friends sat in the gallery to show support.

Both men face automatic life sentences if convicted.

Read more here.

Actions speak louder than words…

C&D demonstrates true commitment to the future of the industry.

Few people in the UK demolition sector can match the dedication and commitment of C&D Consultancy’s John Woodward. Before and during his presidency of the Institute of Demolition Engineers, Woodward was a keen advocate of spreading the demolition message to attract fresh, new blood into the business.

Now, almost two years since his presidency ended, that commitment remains just as strong. Woodward is a part of the “Inspiring the Future” programme in which he visits schools to tell pupils about demolition as a career and hopefully inspires the next generation of demolition engineers.

During one of those talks in Wolverhampton, pupil Matt Birch was inspired (and bold) enough to contact Woodward to ask if he could join C&D for work experience. That work experience starts today.

For the next five days, Matt Birch will be part of the C&D team, attending meetings, visiting sites and getting a real feel of life in a demolition consultancy.

We wish Matt Birch all the very best of luck in his new (if temporary) role and look forward to welcoming him into the industry at some point in the future.

Read more here.

Video – What, no operator…?

Coleman & Company unveils new takes on the demolition robot.

Wide range of work tools? Check. Reinforced superstructure and undercarriage? Check. Extensive cab guarding? Check. Futuristic silver livery? Check. Operator? Erm, no actually.

Birmingham-based Coleman & Company has continued its equipment partnership with JCB with the joint development of a new, bespoke demolition robot.

The machine was put through its paces at the recent Hillhead 2014 exhibition before going to work at Coleman’s Birmingham Gateway Project – Birmingham New Street Redevelopment contract. The crew at Diggers and Dozers caught up with the machine first to bring you this exclusive new film of the machine in action:

Nepal house collapse kills four…

Industry claims the lives of four more at end of tragic week.

Four workers have died as a four-storey house they were tearing down caved in at Lagan Tole in the capital on Saturday.

The deceased have been identified as Pot Bahadur Pandey of Sundaradevi VDC in Nuwakot, Ganesh BK of Taruka in Nuwakot, Bishu Bhandari of Baireni in Dhadhing and Bhupal Thapa Magar from Dharapani in Khotang, said police.

One minor is suspected to be missing while five others have sustained injuries in the incident.

According to police, Pandey was the demolition contractor who had employed over 10 workers for the teardown of the old mud-brick building in dilapidated condition.

“A child is believed to have been buried under the rubbles,” informed a police officer involved in the rescue effort.

Read the full story here.

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