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Big Sandy Unit 2 Cooling Tower Imploded

by on September 29, 2016
The cooling tower of Big Sandy Unit 2 was demolished on Saturday.

(Story by Allison Barker)

Some 500 pounds of explosives were used to implode the cooling tower at Big Sandy Unit 2 Sept. 24.

At 9 a.m., Bob Armstrong, 30-year plant employee, now retired, pushed the button that triggered the blast.

“It’s a big thrill to be asked to do this,” said Armstrong, 85, of Louisa, Ky. “When I was asked if I would like to do this, I said, ‘Lord have mercy, I sure would.’ I was there when it was being built. I saw everything. I’ve been on top of that stack. It’s really something now to see it coming down.”

Independence Demolition of Independence, Ohio, and explosive demolition specialist Dykon of Tulsa, Okla., led the tower demolition in collaboration with construction trades and employees. Representatives from local, county and state agencies in West Virginia and Kentucky, including law enforcement, highways, 911 emergency services, fish and wildlife, and others, assisted.

“The collaboration allowed for a safe, successful event. While today is bittersweet for many employees who enjoyed working at Big Sandy, it also demonstrates our commitment to paving the way for future economic growth in the area. We’re proud to build upon Big Sandy’s legacy in eastern Kentucky,” said Aaron Sink, plant manager.

The cooling tower was 395 feet in diameter at its base and 370 feet tall. A closed cycle cooling system, the cooling tower used water from the Big Sandy River to cool 248,000 gallons of water a minute. By cooling the water, it could be re-circulated and reused in the power generation process. The closed system also meant that heated water was not discharged back into the river where it could disrupt the natural aquatic life.

Big Sandy Unit 2 went online in 1969 and was the first in a series of five 800-megawatt units installed on the AEP System in a four-year period. Unit 2 was retired from service in May 2015 to comply with new environmental regulations.

Big Sandy was the first to incorporate this system into a natural-draft cooling tower in the Western Hemisphere when Unit 1 went online in 1963. Big Sandy continues to use the Unit 1 cooling tower with the successful conversion from a coal-fired unit to a 280-megawatt, natural gas-burning unit in May 2016.

“From a historical perspective, this demolition is a milestone moment for AEP, Kentucky Power and eastern Kentucky,” said Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer. “Unit 2 provided the region with safe, reliable and affordable electricity for nearly 50 years. While this event marks the end of an era, it also further cements Big Sandy’s new role.”


From → News From AEP

One Comment
  1. Quite a bittersweet honor for Bob. I had the pleasure of working with him in the 70’s. As great as Big Sandy was & is, people like Bob were major contributors.

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