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Action Begins on Demolition of Immense S.C. Plant

Fri September 03, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Peter Hildebrandt

Rock Hill, S.C.’s old textile coloring plant, known locally as the “Bleachery” was built in 1929 and very soon came to provide relief from the economic and jobless stresses caused by the Great Depression of the last century.

For many of the years of its operation, the plant was the largest employer in York County, employing some 4,000 workers. It also was the largest cloth, printing and finishing plant in the world for a period of time during its operations. The plant closed in 1998. After that there was only some limited activity at the plant.

The huge site is located between the Winthrop University campus and downtown Rock Hill and is part of a major re-development area known as the “Textile Corridor.” Twenty-three acres in size (or approximately one and a half to two million square feet of space) means this is a substantial chunk of urban real estate.

The city of Rock Hill has done much planning in this area, creating financing tools for building or improving public infrastructure.

“We clearly have a long-term interest in the future development of the area,” explained Stephen Turner, director of Rock Hill Economic Development.

Fires, Vacancy and Asbestos

The property has now been sitting vacant for more than a decade in an increasingly deteriorating condition. There have been three fires on the property. Two of them were during the summer of 2009 and cost the city of Rock Hill $60,000 and took 12 million gallons of water to extinguish, according to Rock Hill Fire Department Capt. Rusty Myers. Both incidents took more than 75 firefighters at the start and officials were there for 12 days fighting the blaze and monitoring its after effects.

“The facility is now clearly a hazard to the health and safety of the community,” said Turner.

Approximately 80 percent of the original building site will be coming down, according to Turner. Rock Hill did a textile corridor master plan in 2003, which defined the redevelopment plan for the area. The idea is to have a pedestrian-oriented site linking the downtown to Winthrop University so that it becomes an urban mixed use area with residential, commercial and employment opportunities as well.

Because of the three fires in the plant there is now structural material which has fallen on top of what is considered asbestos debris.

Will Simmons of Action Demolition & Recycling LLC was given the work of completing the asbestos abatement and demolition of the site. The city will pay five million dollars over a period of years for this work. Rock Hill in turn will have the option to acquire the property.

“Our asbestos crew is well trained and qualified as well as our operators who have asbestos awareness training per South Carolina law. All personnel in the ’hot’ work area have full poly suits and respirators,” said Storey.

Several different containment areas are being set up. The debris is being wetted and removed as the first stage in this demolition project. All of the permits for work on the entire site are now in place.

The Right Equipment for the Task

Currently on-site at the Bleachery, Action Demolition & Recycling has a half dozen Cat excavators, one of which has a LaBounty muncher multiprocessor. This is a hydraulic attachment used for munching down buildings and separating concrete from rebar. The attachment is on a 330 Caterpillar.

On its Cat 320 it has a Cat hammer, which is hydraulic and is used for busting up concrete. The grapple attachment is like a claw and will be used to grab and sort on-site and as a general dismantling attachment. Walls or other structures are able to be peeled or grabbed and torn down.

Several different sizes of Caterpillar machines, including a 330 and a 315, are equipped with contractor’s grapples, according to Matt Storey, vice president of Action Demolition & Recycling. The company also has one Doosan with a Magnum MQP-45 oscillating-rotating shear on it.

The Doosan is being used because it is a smaller machine with a different type of shear head. Action Demolition is using it to strategically cut the burnt section of the Bleachery.

“The shear that we use is basically a rotating scissor used to cut down larger steel structures such as the I-beams in the buildings,” said Storey.

Action Demolition & Recycling’s Cat D6 on-site will be used to push piles and separate materials in order to handle them. The company also plans to bring a Genesis 660 XP on a Cat 330 on-site later on in the process.

The Genesis 660 XP is a stationary shear; it doesn’t rotate or oscillate.

“This attachment is multi-purpose; we can cut things down to size as well as process materials on-site. If we pull down a piece of metal that is too long or too large to fit into a truck, we can cut the metal so that we’ll be able to fit it in. We can also pull beams down that run crossways or cut at the end. So it still serves the same purpose. Obviously the oscillating-rotating shear will do a little more as far as the cutting angles, but both shears will be able to work well for the functions they’ll be involved in,” Storey explained.

“The other shear that we have is probably a little bulky for that area,” said Storey. “We’ll be using specialized equipment, but we do have to work on the burnt section first. Once that is done we’ll bring in the specialized equipment. We hope to be done mid-way through the summer of 2010 on the burnt section. We’ve made a lot of good progress so far and would like to be finished with the entire project within six months of that time, probably November to December, 2010.”

As Action Demolition & Recycling proceeds through the different phases of this demolition project it will crush all the concrete — such as slabs and all on-site concrete — with its Terex Pegson concrete crusher, which will be brought on-site.

The grading at the Bleachery site will be a rough grade, with a large amount of crushed material on-site. Erosion control methods will be used.

Action Demolition has extensive blueprints and specs for all the various buildings and areas involved in the demolition work. This information will be critical in determining which buildings may have floors not immediately visible or unexpected passages or hallways in various structures.

Scrap Metal Processing

Action Demolition & Recycling has its main business office, equipment yard and scrap yard in Gastonia, N.C. It offers both demolition and scrap metal recycling in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It has its own asbestos team, a complete turnkey service where all the environmental work, from asbestos work to remediation, in addition to the demolition activity itself is done.

The company has been in business since 2005. Will Simmons, president and CEO, has about 35 years of experience in the industry, mostly on the scrap metal recycling end of things.

“We are one of the largest demolition contractors in the Southeast,” said Storey. “In spite of that, the economy has affected everyone, including us. Everything in the world is interrelated. But one thing we’ve been flexible in doing is when the demolition business slows down with redevelopment projects and less lending we are able to concentrate more on scrap metal, running that by the ton. We’ve worked hard to stay busy, keep going and stay on our feet and we have really grown in that facet of our business — despite the downsizing going on in other companies,” Storey said.

“In any case, we are glad to be a part of history in both changing the face of Rock Hill and safely bringing down such an important, relatively long-lasting part of the city’s history.” CEG

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