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Marcor Remediation Demolishes Rocket Assembly Building

Thu January 17, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Where workers once built four Titan rockets at one time in a mammoth Vertical Integration Building (VIB) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a pile of rubble now sits waiting for recycling and disposal.

Crews from Marcor Remediation Inc., a national environmental contracting firm, are just completing the demolition of the 245-ft.-high (75 m) structure, making way for new uses of the site by space-related commercial or government concerns.

Marcor is under contract with AMEC Earth and Environmental, which has been retained by the U.S. Air Force to demolish and dismantle a number of outdated buildings and other structures once used in the U.S. space program. 

The intact VIB measured 245 ft. (75 m) high by 300 ft. (91 m) wide by 100 ft. (30.5 m) deep in the main section of the building where the rockets were assembled. It also included five paneled doors measuring 40 by 50 ft. (12 by 15 m) and several low bays in the back of the structure where parts and equipment were kept for rocket assembly.

Approximately 3,500 to 4,000 gross tons of recyclable steel was produced. Each gross ton equals 2,240 lbs. (1,010 kg).

The VIB demolition is the latest project Marcor is handling for AMEC and the U.S. Air Force.

It included the rollover of a 191-ft.-high (58 m) by 100-ft.-deep (30.5 m) by 24-ft.-wide (7.3 m) wall section that weighs between 1,200 to 1,300 tons (1,090 to 1,180 t).

“I’ve been working this industry for 27 years and it is the heaviest rollover I’ve ever done,” said Mark Klotzbach, Marcor senior project manager. 

To achieve the dramatic rollover of the section, the Marcor crew, under Klotzbach’s direction, notch-cut each of the six columns supporting the structure in one column line and attached wire rope slings from column to column. With the wire rope attached to 300 and 400 series excavators, the excavators pulled the wire rope until it was taut, and then popped out the supporting column. 

“We then pulled the wire rope attached to the next column until it was taut, and then popped that support out.  This proceeded until the huge structure remained standing upright, but was supported by only one column at the end of the column line,” Klotzbach explained. “A structure of that size standing on one column, on one side, was quite a sight to see. The purpose of using this process is to control the demolition of the structure in a predictable manner.”

Concurrent with the VIB demolition, Marcor crews have been busy working with the debris, using excavators with shears to cut up the steel and load it for recycling and disposal. Previously, Marcor removed the structural components of two Atlas rocket launch complexes at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which included two mobile service towers that moved the rockets into position; two 190-ft. (58 m) umbilical towers, which stabilized and fed propellants to the rockets prior to launch; and several other structures, including a launch system facility and a concrete “flame bucket” designed to direct the rocket launch heat and flames.

Marcor Remediation, a specialty contracting company founded in 1980 with a current staff of 700 and headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md., performs a full range of environmental contracting services. These include industrial cleaning, MRSA decontamination, asbestos and lead hazard abatement, mold remediation, plant/process decommissioning and demolition, soil and groundwater remediation, emergency spill response, gun range remediation, storage tank management, and restorative cleaning projects.

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