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Detroit cleared…for now

Investigator clears city demolition programme of wrongdoing.

Controversial meetings between city officials and specific contractors to discuss federally-funded demolition work before public bidding didn’t violate written rules, but they weren’t transparent and gave the impression of “preferential treatment,” an independent investigation has ruled.

The findings from an investigation of Detroit’s Office of the Inspector General, which spanned more than three years, are detailed in a 26-page report published Wednesday regarding the programme that remains the focus of a federal criminal investigation.

The city’s programme came under scrutiny in fall 2015 amid concerns over bidding practices and spiralling costs. It’s since been under the scrutiny of state and local probes as well as a federal grand jury.

“Based on our review of documents and interviews conducted for this particular matter, we conclude the large-unit contractor meeting did not violate any existing (Detroit Land Bank Authority) policies pertaining to the use of the Hardest Hit Funds,” the report issued by the office of Detroit Inspector General Ellen Ha reads. “However, engaging in a meeting that was not open to all contractors unnecessarily gave the appearance to the public that an improper activity was taking place behind the closed door.”

The report goes on: “Therefore, while we find no evidence of waste, abuse, fraud or corruption in the demolition procurement process for the large-unit contractors, we find that the large-unit contractor meeting was improperly limited to select contractors, as we have a duty to conduct our business in the most open and transparent manner possible.”

At issue was a 2014 set-price pilot program for bulk demolitions. Three of the four local contractors participating in negotiations — Adamo Group, Homrich and MCM — were the sole bidders after the project was publicly offered. They were awarded the work.

Mayor Mike Duggan has said the move was designed to attract firms able to handle big bundles of demolitions as the city moved with urgency to raze homes and meet a deadline to draw down federal dollars earmarked for the program. The effort was discontinued shortly after.

Demolition officials have said the set-price contract was based on the city’s average pricing of all of its competitive demolition bids and sought contractors with the capacity to raze 800 houses in two months.

The pricing for bulk demolitions — 52 cents per cubic square foot — was crafted to increase production and attract large national contractors.

The inspector general’s office, in its investigation, sought to determine whether the land bank had engaged in waste, fraud, abuse or corruption by holding the large-unit contractor meetings prior to the official release of the request for qualifications.

The investigation found there was no evidence of an “unfair awarding” of the contracts, nor evidence of “kickback,” but all city business should be conducted transparently.

“Based on the evidence gathered, the OIG concludes that the large-unit contractor meeting lacked fairness, openness and transparency. Though the authorities did not violate any of their written policies, this process unnecessarily gave the impression that Adamo, Bierlein, Homrich and MCM were given preferential treatment,” it reads. “Because we (the City of Detroit) have endured a history in which select contractors were being favoured and contracts were issued without a competitive bidding process, it is all the more important now that we, as a public body, have an open and transparent contracting process.”

Read more here.

Jobs – New Year, new role…

Opportunities abound as Shorts Group hits recruitment trail.

As the year draws to a close, Bracknell-based Shorts Group has made its 2019 intentions clear by embarking upon a recruitment mission to reinforce and expand its demolition team.

The company is currently seeking a Demolition Estimator, a Contracts Manager, a Site Supervisor and a Health & Safety co-ordinator.

Full details of these exciting job opportunities and instructions on how to apply can be found on our recruitment-dedicated sister website, DemolitionCareers.co.uk. Alternatively, just follow the links below to find out more about the individual job opportunities.

Demolition Estimator
Contracts Manager
Site Supervisor
Health & Safety co-ordinator

There are currently 44 live job opportunties displayed on DemolitionCareers.co.uk. So if you’d like to start the New Year in a new job with a new employer, head on over to DemolitionCareers.co.uk NOW.

Audio – New Year upsurge for scrap…?

It’s been a tough year for the scrap market. But 2019 might start with some positivity.

2018 was marked by double-digit percentage drops in the price of many of the scrap metals most regularly encountered on demolition sites. Against a backdrop of a US/China trade war and the widespread imposition of tariffs, aluminium was down 15 percent on the year while copper and steel saw prices slide by 19 percent. Worst hit was lead which saw a staggering 24 percent decline in its value during 2018.

But according to Matthew High at ScrapsAway.co.uk, 2019 might just bring some good news for those companies involved in the production and resale of scrap metals. Following a meeting in Argentina, the US and China have agreed toa temporary “cease fire” in their trade war which could see prices return to something approaching normality.

All of this and more is covered in the latest episode of the ScrapChat podcast. The show is currently uploading to iTunes and should be available later today. However, if you can’t wait that long, you can listen to it below:

Video – Demolition TV – Cawarden’s Sheffield steel…

Exclusive film of Cawarden’s new Komatsu PC490 high reach in action.

Cawarden Demolition recently took delivery of a new Komatsu PC490 high reach excavator. And the machine was immediately pressed into action in Sheffield where the company is demolishing the former HSBC building.

You can read all about it in an exclusive Demolition magazine feature here or you can see the machine action yourself in our brand new film (below):

Exclusive – The gift that keeps on giving…

The Festive Red edition of the Demolition magazine is here!

When it comes to Christmas gifts, there are basically two types of people in the world. There are those that – rightly – cannot contain their excitement and who tear into the wrapping paper like a starving man in search of food. And then there are monsters – like my father, actually – who practice something akin to tantric sex with gifts, delaying gratification by slowly removing Sellotape as if each package contains highly unstable nitro glycerine that could explode at any moment.

Normally, I would advise against the tantric approach. But within the next few days, our TV screens will be filled with the umpteenth re-run of The Sound of Music, the snooze-fest that is the Queen’s Speech, and televisual horrors like the Great British Bake Off on Ice. And so, rather than tearing into the all-new edition of the Demolition magazine – this time resplendent in Festive Red – you might want to sit on it for a day or two.

It won’t be easy. It is another massive issue and it contains some content so exclusive that even I haven’t been allowed to see it. And I wrote it!

There are contributions from – among others – Cawarden Demolition, Erith Contractors, O’Keefe and Liberty Industrial. And there’s a lot more besides.

So you can either click the link below, and rip straight into the gift that keeps on giving. Or you could set it aside as an emergency stand-by for when the TV, your spouse, your in-laws or other members of your family simply become too much to bear. The choice is yours.

Breaking News – Another attachment theft…

Industry warned to look out for stolen attachments.

Demolition attachment specialist LDH Attachments is reporting that one of its customers – Hughes Waste – had a number of attachments stolen last night from a site in Bosham, West Sussex.

Attachments stolen include:

  • OKADA ORC-200 ROTATING PULVERISER s/n R20A018, 2018, (shown in photo)
  • VERACHTERT VRG40 SELECTOR GRAB
  • CAT 110 / RAMMER E68 HYDRAULIC BREAKER

Each attachment is fitted with a head bracket to suit Hitachi ZX350, with 100 mm pins.

If anyone can help with the recovery of these grabs, please contact John Hughes on ‭07736 130800‬ / 02392 665949 or LDH Attachments via phone or email.

Video – Longannet latest…

Another day, another successful implosion at Scottish power plant.

The complete eradication of Scotland’s last remaining coal fired power station has moved a step closer with the removal of several more key structures.

Three smaller structures close to the stations iconic chimney were ‘blown down’ in calm conditions on 13 December by ScottishPower demolition contractor Brown & Mason.

Longannet was closed by ScottishPower in 2016, marking the commitment by both ScottishPower and parent company Iberdrola to decarbonising the economy and a stronger focus on renewable power.

With demolition work still ongoing, over 28,000 tonnes of material removed from site so far, with 98.5% of this being recovered/recycled.

Video – Morandi bridge demolition moves step closer…

Demolition work is imminent on collapsed bridge that killed 43 people.

Four months after the collapse of a Genoa bridge that claimed 43 lives and disrupted an entire region’s cross-border transport, Italian engineers are preparing to demolish the remains of the Morandi bridge ahead of its subsequent replacement.

Video – Alaskan antenna bites the dust…

Controlled blast drops huge dish.

A massive 30 metre diameter satellite dish at Bartlett Earth Station in Talkeetna, Alaska has been demolished in a controlled implosion.

The Bartlett Earth Station was built almost 50 years ago by a company called COMSAT. COMSAT’S antenna brought communications to the region shortly after Alaska became a state.

Now, marking the end of an era, New Horizons Telecom, has carefully coordinated and executed the demolition of the giant antenna, making way for more modernised telecommunications systems in the state.

Video – Arkansas power plant felled…

Implosion marks end for 75-year old power station.

A team comrosing representatives of Entergy, Bierlein and Dykon yesterday used explosives to destroy the major parts of the closed Couch Plant which dated to 1943 and was designed to burn fuel oil or gas at two generating units. Named after power company founder Harvey Couch, the plant has been out of commission since 2013.

The company is modernising its production, with new solar and gas-fired generating facilities and plans to take its remaining coal-burning plants out of commission.

Couch Plant Demolition from Entergy on Vimeo.

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