Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Implosion risks rated minimal

Accidents such as in Omaha unlikely at Cinergy

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

An implosion mishap similar to the one that toppled the roof on an historic building in downtown Omaha Sunday isn't likely to happen when the walls of Cinergy Field come crumbling down next month, Hamilton County officials said Monday.

Three former Pinnacle Foods Corp. buildings in downtown Omaha were imploded Sunday, but a fourth not scheduled for demolition came down as well.

City officials there don't know yet what caused debris from the 10-story structures to fall on the neighboring building, but the accident has raised questions about the potential for such a disaster on Cincinnati's riverfront.

County officials and the company hired to implode the 32-year-old stadium say short of a few rattling windows and a cloud of dust, they don't expect any major problems with the Dec. 29 razing.

Mike Sieving, construction executive for Hamilton County, said the county's geotechnical engineers have determined that vibrations from the explosive charges, and the tons of concrete and steel falling to the ground during implosion, will not harm the nearby structures.

Mr. Sieving said buildings north of Third Street would be protected by Fort Washington Way, while the new ballpark and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center are built to withstand much more violent ground vibration.

"Contemporary buildings are built to withstand high winds and earthquake forces that are greater than what will be produced during the implosion," Mr. Sieving said. "Certainly nothing is foolproof, but we don't anticipate any significant problems.

"Is it possible we could have some air concussion or projectiles that could go as far as crack a window on Great American Ball Park? Yes, we could. Could some debris hit a wall and crack some masonry that we would have to replace? Yes, it could. But that is the limit of the impact that could happen."

And even the chances of sustaining that type of damage are remote, Mr. Sieving said, because demolition crews will detonate 2,000 pounds of explosives in such a way that Cinergy Field will fall away from Great American Ball Park and collapse in on itself.

"There is a lot of due diligence that goes into a project of this nature," said Jeff Sizemore, project manager with O'Rourke Wrecking Co. "We've spent the past year researching and investigating how to go about this. We wanted to make sure that no stone was left unturned so that this goes off without any hitches." Mr. Sizemore would not comment on the incident in Omaha, because he said all the details are not known. He said the subcontractor used in that demolition is not the same one that will be used to raze Cinergy.

E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com

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