Expanding compound supplier Sylentmite put on an impressive demonstration/presentation during the recent NFDC 2008 Annual Convention. For anyone that missed the demonstration, this video gives an indication of the power of the product.
The Tinsley cooling towers were imploded in Sheffield, UK during the August Bank Holiday weekend. Although shrouded in secrecy and darkness, Demolition News managed to capture some video footage as the towers came down.
The all-new website of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) went live today. I had a hand in the development so I won’t dwell on it; I’ll just let the site speak for itself.
Demolition News has celebrated its first week with the launchof its first ever vieo podcast, an interview with Richard Comley of CG Comley & Sons Ltd on the subject of Contaminated Concrete. We look forward to receiving viewers comments.
Nobody wants to see a school demolished, least of all in ht eUK where the education system is in disarray. But you would have thought that someone might have raised the alarm when the excavators and mobile plant arrived on this site, wouldn’t you?
Letsrecycle.com has carried an article on an interesting diversification by UK demolition contractor 777, the company perhaps best-known as the owner of one of the UK’s largest high-reach excavators.
Details of their recent diversification can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/6fgwmj
Midlands-based Coleman & Co. has taken delivery of a new Kocurek-modified Liebherr machine that boasts an upward reach of over 65 metre, making it arguably the UK’s largest. A full report on the new machine will appear in the September issue of Demolition & Disamntling but here’s a photo that shows just how big the machine really is.
Komatsu claims that its Dash-8 excavator operator’s cab is its strongest yet. Having seen this video, it would be difficult to argue with that.
In November last year, an issue that many building materials manufacturers have been forecasting for years finally reached the public consciousness. A factory in Scotland, built in the 1990s, was being demolished until the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) intervened to halt the work. SEPA had the full weight of the law behind them due to the environmental threat from the building’s commonly-used foam insulated sandwich panels.
The repercussions from this one intervention have rippled through the UK’s commercial building industry, as funders, owners, manufacturers, specifiers and demolition contractors are realising that, at the end of many buildings’ lives, massive and expensive clean-up operations are inevitable. And the question, which has yet to have a definitive answer, is: who foots the bill?
Demolition was halted at the building, the former Chunghwa television factory in Mossend, Lanarkshire; because the foam material is officially designated as hazardous waste, due to the presence of blowing agents that contain ODP (Ozone Depletant Potential) and pose a potential pollution threat to the water table. The CFCs and HCFCs used for blowing the foam are similarly harmful to the environment as the propellants in aerosols which caused such a media storm until they were banned in 1989 and 1994 respectively.
SEPA found that demolition contractors were stripping panels from the building, crushing them and sending them to landfill, releasing the harmful substances.
Today the most popular method of disposing of foam-filled sandwich panels is to crush them or burn off the foam to recover the steel. But this runs counter to EC Regulation 2037/2000, which states that, due to their make-up, these insulation panels must in fact be recycled in exactly the same way as refrigerators, and cannot be cut, crushed or disposed of by any other means. And this is where the big bills lurk.
The process is complicated and expensive. First, the panels must be removed carefully from the building without being bent, torn, cut or broken – any damage at this stage would release the harmful substances and they need to be delivered flat in order to go through the correct disposal process.
Next, somebody has to pay for their delivery transport to the fridge recycling plant, of which to date there are an extremely limited number in the UK so the distance involved may be long and the transport costs high. When delivered, the panels must be cut to a suitable size. Panels are usually several metres long but must be reduced to no more than 2.0 x 1.0 metres for the process, and of course the cutting must be done in an isolated room to capture the dangerous substances released. Only once cut can the panels be fed into the recycling process.
Based on this process, a conservative estimate for the clean-up cost would be £13 per square metre (although costs in excess of £30 have been mooted); and when multiplied by the quantities of foam that hides in the roofs and walls of buildings nationwide, it runs into the billions.
Between 1992 and 2004 (at which point the ODP substances were outlawed), the manufacturers’ own figures suggest that some 83.5 million square metres of this same product were specified in the UK alone. In fact, this material had also been in use since the early 80s so the total figure will be much higher. And specifiers must not think that ODP-free material made since 2004 is exempt: in 25 years or so, when an average industrial building reaches the end of its life, there will be no visible way of knowing whether or not the foam insulation is pre- or post- 2004. The 2005 Montreal Protocol, therefore, advised governments globally that it will have to be recycled in exactly the same way. To complicate things further, post-2004 panels are often blown with Pentane, which is potentially explosive and must therefore be processed in a specially isolated area with a nitrous oxide atmosphere.
The industry as a whole is now facing high environmental and financial costs associated with the disposability of these panels, at a much earlier than expected time. The implications of this are that correct disposal methods may be ignored, either due to a lack of knowledge and information, or in some cases in favour of cheaper but unlawful and potentially damaging solutions. These, of course, will simply create a much more serious, costly, damaging and dangerous problem.
I do not believe that the specifiers who chose these products, or the demolition contractors who were halted by SEPA, are to blame. Insufficient information has been provided to the market regarding the ecological legacy that these products were to leave behind, and it is the manufacturers who must do the decent thing and foot the bill.
Further information can be found at the following links:
The NFDC 2008 Convention in Palma, Majorca marked the official launch of the Federation’s new guidance on the deconstruction of high rise structures. As with the Federation’s crusher guidance, my involvement in the production of the publication prevents me from giving an impartial review but the following article does give an insight into the content.
Copies are available from the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (www.demolition-nfdc.com)
Back in 1991, Allied Forces were embroiled in the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, there was a President Bush in the White House, and in Staines, the finishing touches had just been put to a set of guidance notes on the deconstruction of tower blocks.
Seventeen years later, Saddam may be gone but US and UK forces are still in Iraq; there’s another Bush in the White House; and the new edition of the NFDC’s Guidance on the Deconstruction of High Rise Structures has just been completed.
Two Decades of Change
Yet while things seemingly remain unchanged in US politics and international policy, the new set of guidance notes is a markedly different animal. “It is a testament to the original document that it was still in daily use 17 years after it was written,” says co-author of the new edition John Woodward. “But when we looked at it, it really polarised just how much our industry had changed in the past two decades.”
For one thing, the previous document made regular references to both high-balling and explosive techniques. “Obviously, explosive techniques are still utilised and have become far more specialised over the interceding years and their use is largely restricted to specific applications so we decided that it would be best to look at those in a separate guidance,” Woodward continues. “In addition, while high-balling was a highly productive and efficient demolition method, it has been largely consigned to the industry history books. So we have focused primarily upon floor-by-floor or ‘top-down’ methods this time around.”
The resulting document – produced by an NFDC working committee involving Woodward, NFDC CEO Howard Button, Tilley & Barrett’s Paul Brown and Demolition & Dismantling editor Mark Anthony – is the Federation’s most ambitious and comprehensive set of guidance notes to date.
Safe Working Practices
“The process of floor-by-floor deconstruction is a complex one and, as we were determined to define safe working practices and acceptable levels of control for all stages of the process, we knew from the outset that this publication would be a massive undertaking,” Woodward explains. “Even the scope of the guidance which we finally set at structures of 18 metres and above, was the source of a great deal of discussion because, once again, the goalposts have moved somewhat since the previous edition was published.”
Woodward cites legislation like BS6187:2000, Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007, all of which were introduced after the original guidance was published, and which had to be taken into account in the writing of the new one. “Legislation is constantly changing but we cannot just ignore it or offer guidance that is isolated from current regulations,” Woodward asserts. “So the new guidance makes constant reference to the very latest legislation and offers specific advice that anyone using the guidance should also produce a method statement and risk assessment and take into account prevailing site, environmental and regulatory conditions.”
In some ways, the degree to which legislation, planning and control are covered further highlights the way in which the industry has developed in the past two decades. Before the guidance makes any specific recommendations on demolition and deconstruction methods, the co-authors spent five pages covering subjects including roles and responsibilities; safety legislation, management procedures; and project planning and notifications.
“Today’s demolition contractor must abide by a huge and growing number of rules and regulations before they even set foot onto a site,” Woodward explains. “As one of the primary aims of the new guidance was safety, it was vital that we took all of this into account. But it did highlight just how heavily regulated this industry has become.”
Scaffold & Protection
Another key element of the new guidance is the subject of scaffolding and protection, a vital consideration in almost all floor-by-floor deconstruction projects. The new publication recommends that all scaffold should be designed by competent and qualified scaffold designers who will provide scaffold drawings and calculations. It further recommends that the design incorporates suitable and sufficient ties back to the main structure in accordance with BS5973.
“Experience has shown that for demolition scaffold, more scaffold ties than recommended in BS5973 should be provided to ensure that the scaffold will always have sufficient ties as the scaffold is dismantled with the demolition,” Woodward explains.
Woodward says that the new guidance will be previewed at the 2008 NFDC Convention in Palma, Majorca with the full launch to NFDC members following immediately afterwards. “It is two years since the NFDC’s guidance on the use of high reach excavators was introduced. That publication has been distributed across the US and Europe, has been translated into French and has recently been reprinted for the second time,” Woodward says. “Given the universal use of floor-by-floor techniques, we expect a similar level of demand for the new guidance.”
Although the new guidance is likely to achieve international recognition, Woodward says that it is aimed primarily at helping NFDC members in their day to day business, and that the publication was produced with the assistance of members across the UK. “This new set of guidance notes is a perfect example of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors working with and for its members,” Woodward concludes. “During the research of this guidance, the working committee spoke to members in all five regions of the Federation to gain their expert opinion and input. And the production of the guidance has been partially sponsored by associate members JCB and Sandvik Mining and Construction,” Woodward concludes. “The result is a guidance of which the Federation can be rightly proud and which will be of daily help to member companies and their employees.”