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Power Plant - Salvage & Dismantlement - Western Electric

Date Published:   12/08/2017

Western Electric’s plant in Kearny, New Jersey was closed and sold for re-development years ago. The developer determined that the site’s main powerhouse/substation buildings would be obsolete in the site’s future and over the years removed all boilers, ducts and miscellaneous equipment from the powerhouse’s interior. In April of 2015, the developer decided to completely demolish the powerhouse and substation buildings.

The powerhouse was a 100’ x 100’ x 100’ high steel framed structure with brick exterior walls, a poured in place concrete floor supported  by steel approximately 18’ above grade and a concrete/steel coal bunker running east to west and hung from the roof steel approximately 25’ wide by 90’ long. Atop the powerhouse’s roof were (2) 20’ diameter by 200’ high redial brick chimneys.

The main substation was a 65’ x 120’ x 2’ steel frame structure with brick walls and concrete and steel arches. The substation’s south wall was a party wall with the powerhouse’s north wall.

A 28’ wide driveway, east of the (2) buildings, separated the buildings from an active warehouse structure (the driveway was the emergency exit for the warehouse). North of the substation, a 45’ wide driveway separated another warehouse from the project.  90’ west of the buildings was the Hackensack River while underground water and gas lines serving the site were south of the powerhouse.

Implosion was not an option for this project.



Phoenix Equipment Corporation was selected because:


  • Our experienced management personnel devised a demolition methodology that greatly reduced the project’s cost.
  • Phoenix’s ability to obtain and manage safe/competent subcontractors for the project (i.e. Asbestos abatement, manual demolition of chimneys, site production (i.e. roof coverage, sidewalk bridges, scaffolding, etc.).
  • Phoenix’s ability to deal with local, state and federal agencies which might get involved with the project.


While waiting for the actual permits to demolish the buildings, our team performed the following work:


  • Abate remaining asbestos in both buildings.
  • Covered roofs of both warehouse operations with insulation board, covered by tires and topped with 2” thick decking.
  • Erected a sidewalk bridge in north and east driveways to protect emergency exits from warehouses.
  • Opened bottoms of both 200’ high brick chimneys. 


Once the demolition permits had been obtained, Phoenix performed the following work:


  • Demolish both radial brick chimneys to the powerhouse’s roof, using a scaffold attached to the chimneys as a work platform and the chimneys as their own chutes.
  • Using excavators attached with shears and grapples, the substation was demolished to grade.
  • Using manlifts as work platforms, we sectionalized the powerhouse and dropped or pulled sections into our work area.  The largest pulled section weighed approximately 800 tons.
  • Set up an owner revised dewatering set-up at the site (Baker tanks, 6” pumps and hoses).
  • Removed building basement slabs and foundations as low as possible based on the dewatering set-up’s ability to handle ground and river water.
  • Crushed masonry materials to 1”+ and left on site.


The project yielded:

  • 2,500 Tons Scrap Steel
  • 50,000 Pounds copper cable
  • 23,000 Tons - masonry (crushed and left on-site)

Plant Subcategory Cogeneration Power Plants
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