R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services, a specialized dismantling, rigging and demolition contractor, completed the total dismantlement of two cooling towers at an active pharmaceutical plant in New Jersey. The work was part of a larger cooling tower replacement and upgrade project by Skanska USA Building.
The basic scope of work consisted of the total dismantlement of two wooden cooling towers that were approximately 60 ft. (18 m) high. Each tower needed to be carefully dismantled, along with associated piping, stairs, hangers and supports, down to top of concrete dike slab. It was critical that the concrete slab of the dike not be damaged as this was going to be re-utilized for new construction. The work also needed to be conducted with the utmost attention to safety for workers and the surrounding facility workers and nearby structures. Active lines and structures were on all sides of the work area and also in close proximity to an active plant road with pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Prior to any dismantling work being conducted, several important pre-dismantlement tasks needed to be completed. All utilities and active lines to the cooling towers were isolated and made safe. Asbestos containing materials were properly removed and abated. As safety was paramount, chain link fencing with green screen mesh was placed around the work area. In addition, debris netting was placed in strategic locations to ensure no debris landed outside the work zone.
Following these tasks, safety procedures and safety plans were implemented to ensure a safe dismantling project. Damon Kozul, corp. safety officer, worked closely with Carl Finkelson, project manager, to ensure that safety was first and foremost on the project. A safety video was watched by all employees and each worker was instructed on the proper PPE required for the project. Beyond the basic Level D PPE, high visibility safety vests were worn by all workers. In addition, a JSA (job safety analysis) was developed and implemented for each day of work.
Dismantling of the two cooling towers started with the salvage of the fans for re-use and spare parts. In order to rig this equipment safely, a Grove hydraulic 100-ton (91 t) capacity all terrain crane was utilized. R. Baker & Son assigned several of its key rigging experts, including T.J. Indelweiss and Mario Laka, to this phase of the project to ensure the task was completely safely and on schedule. Under the management of Finkelson, the fan units were carefully extracted from the cooling tower units, rigged down without any damage and then placed in the client’s storage area.
Following the equipment salvage, the interior of the dike for the cooling towers was cleaned of piping and all diffusers. This selective demolition was done prior to any structural demo to make it easier to keep materials segregated for clean up and recycling.
Due to the proximity to active lines and structures, mechanical demolition using excavators could not be performed. In order to safely take down the cooling towers, R. Baker & Son developed a methodology to utilize skilled dismantlers in personnel lifts with hand tools. A 60 and 80 ft. (18 and 24 m) Genie personnel lift was lifted into the diked area using the 100-ton capacity crane. The personnel lifts were then utilized by dismantlers with saws and other hand tools to methodically dismantle the wooden towers section by section. As a section was demolished, debris was immediately removed using Bobcat S150 and S185 skid steers with demolition buckets. This process continued until the concrete and steel base of the units was reached.
To demolish the concrete and steel beam bases, R. Baker & Son once again utilized the Grove 100-ton capacity crane to carefully lift equipment into the diked area. Two Bobcat 341 mini excavators with concrete breakers and buckets were utilized for this phase. These machines easily demolished the cooling tower bases into rubble while not damaging the slab below, which was to be utilized for the new construction. The demolished concrete was loaded out of the diked area for offsite recycling.
The client had set a very demanding schedule that necessitated R. Baker & Son to work weekends. Due to R. Baker & Son’s attention to pre-planning, safety implementation and the skilled workmanship by Finkelson’s crew, the project was safely completed on schedule.
About R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services
R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services is a specialized contractor for dismantlement, decommissioning and demolition in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The veteran owned company has been in business since 1935, has more than 100 employees and an exemplary safety record. It has been directly involved in four sites that received VPP OSHA Safety Awards. Capabilities include total plant and facility dismantlement, decommissioning, demolition, plant relocations and re-installations as well as heavy equipment rigging and machinery moving, millwright services and onsite concrete crushing.
For more information, call 732/222-3553 or visit