PenPly smokestack finally succumbs to gravity

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The smokestack as the old PenPly mill finally crashed to the ground Monday evening after a three-hour delay. The initial explosion to down the smokestack failed at 3:30 p.m. The stack was finally demolished with the assistance of a 100 ton jack borrowed from Hermann Brothers Logging. More photos on Facebook.


The community gathered along the Port Angeles bluff and at the former mill site to see the smoke stack fall at 3:30 p.m., but only those patient enough to wait saw the operation safely and successfully completed.


The explosives detonated per the contractor’s plan and schedule, but the stack remained erect. Two critical points of failure in the stack wall did not collapse in the blast. The Port’s prime contractor Rhine Demolition, LLC and its subcontractor, Wallace Technical Blasting, Inc., were committed to completing the stack demolition. They first exposed the stack wall to inspect the blast damage and then proceeded to systematically cut rebar to further weaken the structure. 

Additionally, tension was applied to a cable fastened approximately midway up the stack to ensure the stack fell in the planned direction. Lastly, a large hydraulic jack was provided by the Port and local contractor Herman Brothers to lift the south side about 1½ inches which triggered the collapse at 6:14 p.m. 


Port of Port Angeles engineering director Chris Hartman said, “An essential element of the operation was to fall the stack safely. Situated in an urban setting with a large crowd looking on, the contractor did not want to use too much dynamite and risk injuries to bystanders. We appreciated the extra layers of safety utilized in this demolition and recognize that the mission was accomplished without any injury or damage to property.” 

A Rhine Demolition representative stated that this is the first time a structure like the stack hasn’t fallen when planned in at least 20 years. 


“While the stack didn’t fall when it was scheduled to, the Port is pleased that it was toppled and no one was hurt in the process. Safety is always of the utmost importance,” said Jeff Robb, the Port’s executive director. “The Port would like to thank the community at large for embracing this historic event. Sometimes the past doesn’t want to let go, but the future moves us forward. The Port is committed to returning sustainable family wage jobs back to the site as soon as possible.”


Meanwhile, Rhine Demolition continues to clean up the demolition materials at the mill site. More than 40 percent of the materials are being recycled or repurposed. Its contract with the Port closes on May 3 and workers are ahead of schedule. 

Site investigation has begun with the Port’s environmental consultant, Floyd Snider from Seattle. Floyd Snider is preparing a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) for the Department of Ecology’s approval. 

The Port, Floyd Snider and the Department of Ecology are actively working on the RI/FS with the goal of implementation by the end of 2013. 

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