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Cooling Tower 101 Deconstruction

You can also download the video as a low-resolution (35 MB), mid-resolution (41 MB) or high-definition (136 MB) .mov file. Time 2:10. (Video by Brad Plummer and Rod Reape.)

A huge yellow excavator chomped its way through metal and wood as the demolition of Cooling Tower 101 began on Wednesday, March 10. SLAC employees passing by the intersection of Loop and Target Roads saw various stages of the tower's demise, also caught here on both video and still camera. The demolition and replacement work is being executed carefully and systematically by contractor WL Butler and their subcontractors, with support from the SLAC Facilities Division, Environment, Safety & Health Division, Procurement, Finance, Project Management Office and SLAC Site Office.

"The Cooling Tower project got off to a rocky start," said Sandy Merola, SLAC's Chief Operations Officer, referring to previous plans to get the tricky project underway. "Our current success can be credited to Craig Ferguson's leadership, combined with the ability of our staff to turn this around and the spirit of support and partnership from the SLAC Site Office."

CT-101 is the last of the original cooling towers at SLAC and was built in the 1960s. The tower re-circulates water to cool air compressors, low-conductivity water systems and chillers for air conditioning to many critical buildings, including Buildings 50 (computing), 84, and 44. So replacing the tower while keeping SLAC cool has proven difficult, but necessary.

"The [old] cooling tower is not seismically rated for what is necessary today," said Project Manager and ES&H Director Craig Ferguson, who donned hardhat, steel-toed boots and more to oversee much of the demolition work in person.

Replacement of CT-101 is the final part of a $15 million project, which also covered infrastructure such as underground piping, to seismically upgrade SLAC's cooling systems. Cooling duties were shifted earlier to a temporary cooling tower, allowing the crew to drain and disassemble the old in preparation for piecing together a newer, more earthquake-safe cooling tower.

From March 10 through 17 the old cooling tower came down successfully with the help of two very large pieces of equipment: the excavator and a boom lift. From the bird's-eye view of boom lift, one crew member directed the excavator operator as they carefully tore down the tower—all within a very confined space.

"The key to destruction was the proper work planning, orchestration, sequencing and using the proper equipment to ensure it was done safely and on schedule," Ferguson said. 

Now that the demolition is complete, the construction crew will begin to replace the anchor points for the new cooling tower. Taking advantage of the cooling tower down time, Facilities Division staff also had the recirculating pumps and motors refurbished to ensure the system will be reliable for years to come. Over the next few weeks, employees around SLAC will start to see the empty hole in the skyline filled as the new cooling tower goes up.

The project is schedule to be completed the last week of May 2010.

A special thank you to key SLACers who were essential to the success of this work: UTR Rich Maggi; Mike Loya, superintendent from general contractor W.L. Butler; Ray Radau and William Harrison and all the Facilities Operations Mechanical group; Bill Choate and all the Facilities Electrical Group; Bob Law, Construction Manager; Javier Sevilla and the Facilities Engineering and Construction staff; Don Dains,Robin Christenson, Norm Picker and all the safety supportstaff; Doug Stickney, Electrical Safety Officer; Ernie Gomes and the Building Inspection Office; John Azevedo and Sherrie Remington, Procurement.

—story by Julie Karceski; video by Brad Plummer and Rod Reape
SLAC Today, March 23, 2010