By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD – Huge piles of steel and rubble are just a few of the obvious signs of progress being made in demolishing the former Kern Power Plant.
Come this time next year, most of the remaining structures will be gone and there will be few visible signs of this dormant plant remaining on the corner of Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway. It’s part of PG&E’s promise to the community to clean up the 120-acre site.
“We’re making progress every day,” Thomas Allen, PG&E’s director of new generation construction, told members of the news media on Tuesday (Aug. 7).
Reporters toured the former Kern Power Plant for an up-close look at the progress being made in cleaning up the site. PG&E also announced a new timeline for the demolition project.
The updated timeline includes:
- September-November 2012: Demolish the concrete power plant
- January 2013: Implode boilers (large steel structures)
- Spring 2013: Clear the site of structures
- Spring-Summer 2013: Begin subsurface assessment for environmental remediation
The tour on Tuesday provided a rare glimpse at the meticulous work being done to tear down the aging structures. Allen explained how asbestos in the main building was being carefully handled with a negative pressure system that sucks air into the building preventing the release of particles into the atmosphere. There is plastic wrap around parts of the structure, part of the process to safely remove the asbestos.
Inside the building, Allen pointed out massive generators whose casings were recently removed as well as the underside of the steam turbines – all remnants of what once was.
Back outside, he pointed out huge piles of concrete rubble and steel – like skeletal remains — all of which will be recycled.
“Almost everything will be reused,” said Allen. So, far, more than 600 tons of steel have come out of the plant.
The Kern Power Plant operated from 1948 until 1985 when it went into stand-by status. It was permanently closed in 1995.
PG&E attempted to sell the site, but the deals fell through. The utility has acknowledged community concerns about delays in removing the former power plant and promised to clean up the property. The cooling towers and storage buildings at the site were removed in fall 2011 and PG&E made a public commitment to a multi-year, multi-phase plan to demolish the plant and clean up the site.
In March, PG&E announced that Cleveland Wrecking Company, a subsidiary of URS Corp., had been hired as the demolition contractor.
Work at the property was temporarily suspended after a Cleveland Wrecking employee was killed in an accident while working on a fuel oil storage tank on June 19. Work has since resumed at the plant, however, the tank demolition is postponed until the California Public Utilities Commission and Cal/OSHA (the state’s Occupational Safety and Health division) complete their investigations.
PG&E has several ways for Kern County customers to keep up with what is happening at the Kern Power Plant site:
- Kern Power Plant demolition website
- Kern Power Plant hotline, (661) 398-4540
- Kern Power Plant email address, email@example.com
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org.