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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 26, 201809:19 PM EST

JEA cooling towers to be imploded this summer

Demolition permit issued to bring down landmark structures.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

Those two tall cooling towers in North Jacksonville will be imploded this summer.

The city issued a permit for Total Wrecking & Environmental LLC to implode the 464-foot-tall concrete cooling towers at the St. Johns River Power Park at 11201 New Berlin Road.

Total Wrecking & Environmental is the contractor for the job, listed at a cost of $14.5 million. It did not provide details about the implosion.

On Nov. 16, Total Wrecking was awarded the demolition contract including an additional scope to demolish equipment and other structures and to restore the site to an industrial standard for a total bid of $17,737,420. 

Total Wrecking, based in the Buffalo suburb of Tonawanda, New York, is a national company with three generations in the demolition business.

JEA and Florida Power & Light Co. co-own the power park. The Florida Public Service Commission approved the plant closing in September.

It began commercial operation in March 1987 and ceased producing electric power in January. 

The final phase of the demolition of the St. Johns River Power Park will be the demolition of its 640-foot-tall smokestack because it is the tallest structure with aerial warning lights.

JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said demolition of the two cooling towers is the first phase of the estimated $68 million plan to decommission and remediate the site. Boyce said when the structures are gone, the site will be remediated by April 2020.

JEA owns 80 percent of the park and FPL owns the remaining 20 percent. According to the News Service of Florida, FPL will pay JEA $90.4 million to decommission the power park. 

The 1.43 million-square-foot power park consists of 46 single- and multistory buildings, the two cooling towers and a 640-foot-tall smokestack on 1,600 acres. 

The implosion subcontractor, Maryland-based Controlled Demolition, said by email it will provide explosive design and performance on the cooling towers and other structures. 

The cooling towers will be imploded in late June or early July. Other structures require decommissioning and will be demolished later.

Frank Bodami, Total Wrecking managing member, said there is little hazardous material on-site. Decommissioning involves preparations such as removing oils and fluids from equipment, most of which will be done by JEA. 

Bodami said about 98.8 percent of the demolished material will be recycled. The two-year project will result in grass fields with some of the roads and railroad lines remaining.

Initial demolition has begun with the removal of plastic filter material from the cooling towers. The material will be recycled.

Implosions are planned for three phases. 

The first phase includes the cooling towers; the second phase will be the two boilers; and the last will be the 640-foot-tall smokestack because it is the tallest structure with aerial warning lights. 

Bodami said his company typically hires subcontractors for implosions because of the specialty work involved.  They need a master blasting license.

Total Wrecking employs eight to 10 workers and will hire more locally, primarily equipment operators and laborers familiar with the process.

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