Solar News
FPL's landmark twin smokestacks, boilers and water tower demolished in Riviera B...
June 20th, 2011

With a flash, a rumble and a series of booms, Florida Power & Light Co.’s landmark 300-foot twin smokestacks, two boilers and water tower were demolished in less than 9 seconds this morning.

The implosion using dynamite went off at 8:30 a.m. smoothly and as scheduled. The operationwas conducted by workers with Controlled Demolition of Phoenix, Md. A voluminous cloud of dust and smoke quickly dissipated. Much of the more than 18,000 tons of debris will be recycled.

Hundreds of boaters gathered in the Intracoastal Waterway, and onlookers also lined bridges, Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach and the Lake Trail in Palm Beach.

FPL CEO and president Armando Olivera, one of more than 200 FPL employees, elected officials and others who watched the event from the Port of Palm Beach to the north, said the takedown was a success.

“It’s amazing how quickly it happened,” Olivera said. “It was such a landmark for so many years.”

Rising in place of the oil and natural-gas fired plant will be the Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center, $1.3 billion state-of-the art combined-cycle natural gas plant capable of producing up to 1,250 megawatts.

At the port building many people brought their families with them for the implosion which happened to fall on Father’s Day.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, whose entourage included her grandson Jordan Alexander, said, “It was very cool. We are excited about seeing a new plant. Even though it’s it Riviera Beach, our neighborhoods are affected.”

Muoio planned to drive through neighborhoods to the south to make sure everything was okay.

Although the plant itself is in Riviera Beach, the manatee viewing site at the plant is actually in West Palm Beach.

Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams said immediately after the take down, “Everything went smoothly. There was a lot of good planning. As a result, we had an excellent demolition and implosion.”

Riviera Beach Councilman Cedric Thomas, accompanied by his wife Tamika Thomas and daughter Jazmun Thomas, 12, called it “a beautiful event.” He’s also happy the tax base in Riviera Beach will increase.

“I thought it was amazing,” Jazmun Thomas said.

About 400 people lined North Flagler Drive from the corner of 59th Street with coffee cups and water bottles. Area residents and visitors came to see the implosion of a plant that has been a landmark in Riviera Beach for generations. For some people, the implosion was a source of excitement, but for others, it was emotional.

“My grandfather worked there in the ’50s,” LeeAnn Rogers said. “It’s emotional. On our way over here, I was thinking about how he started everything working so hard.”

The West Palm Beach resident was visibly shaken as she recalled passing by the plant, as a child, with various relatives who reminded her that her grandfather worked there.

Gus Chavez, a traffic homicide investigator, stood just yards away from the gate of the plant when the implosion began.

“Growing up here and seeing those towers there forever, it’s pretty impressive,” the West Palm Beach resident said. “It was pretty cool watching it. Now it’s gone, but now you’ll get cleaner energy, I guess.”

Donnell Parks brought his young son to see a plant that was a part of his childhood, disappear.

“I grew up here. I’ve seen this thing all my life, so I wanted to come here and see it,” 35-year-old Parks said. “It was cool to finally see how it all works, to see something like that in front of you. I’m looking forward to the new plant, to see the new technology.”

Before the implosion, onlookers waited with varied feelings.

For Charles Teague, the plant and its two stacks have a more practical meaning.

“It means a lot,” Teague said. “I go out fishing a lot and you can always see the stacks when you’re coming back in.”

Cheryl Houghtelin has lived in the area for 11 years. She and a friend had their coffee in hand waiting for the moment to arrive.

“I think of it as a historic site. It’s a marker when you fly in and out, and I rarely see anything that’s any color coming out of there,” Houghtelin said. “I’m happy that FPL is making it better. It’s going to be interesting, because I’ve never seen a power plant go up.”

Tom Nardone sat on the curb at the corner of 59th Street and North Flagler, waiting.

“This (plant) has always been a backdrop to the neighborhood for decades and a useful navigational piece for boaters out on that water, so this area is going to lose something in respect to an iconic thing that has been here for years,” Nardone said. “But I guess there’s always room for improvement, and they’ll build something better in its place.”

He added, “I can’t really say that it’s a lovely thing to see, but I probably won’t be that unhappy to see it go. I think anything they would put there that looks prettier than that would be OK with me.”

The new plant, which will feature three 150-foot smokestacks, is scheduled to open in 2014 and will produce enough power for approximately 250,000 of FPL’s 4.5 million customers. The plant will generate power with 33 percent less fuel per megawatt hours and far fewer emissions than the former plant.

The old plant dates to 1946, and the stacks demolished today were built in 1962-63.

[Source: Palm Beach Post]

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