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Planning a Fossil Teardown

Decommissioning and remediation of coal- and oil-fired plants.

April 2012

historical manufactured gas and PCB issues commonly exist with such plants. Consider the possibility of carving out areas that require extensive remedial activities for attention post-demolition, while addressing other areas with relatively shallow, contained contamination to be inexpensively addressed during demolition.

Developing a preliminary project schedule for all phases of the project will be important. This schedule should allow time to pull together all required project documents and site plans (including ones detailed enough for take-off purposes), development of bidding-related documents (including establishing the commercial terms and conditions), setting up pre-bid meetings and conducting a bidding process, assessing the submitted bids, obtaining the project-related permits and approvals, performing the actual demolition (which might require multiple phases to address contaminants such as asbestos, lead and PCBs in building materials prior to demolition), and ultimately leaving the property in the specified state. The preliminary schedule will entail a multi-year demolition process. If so, knowing that early in the project, helps establish reasonable expectations with the regulatory agencies, local officials, the neighboring affected property owners and the community about the length of time and level of effort it will take to demolish the structures and prepare the property for whatever comes next.

Demolition and Salvage

The legal and business issues to be considered as part of the demolition and deconstruction process for a large coal-fired power plant are nearly as extensive and complex as those to be considered in contracting for the engineering, procurement, and construction of such a plant. Permitting and approvals, rate recovery, bidding procedures, contract structure, and risk allocation within the contract structure all come into play, in addition to other issues, such as site protection, and interaction with adjacent property owners and neighborhoods that have grown up around the plant. One of the most significant issues in today’s economy is the salvage of existing components and materials that are unique to the demolition of a large facility that might be 50 or 60 years old. Some of the most significant of these issues include:

Obtaining permits: In most states, the municipal entity where the power plant is located issues the demolition permit. If the plant is subject to state or federal cleanup orders or directives, however, it might require a collaborative approach between federal, state, and local municipal officials to identify permit requirements and negotiate their terms. Some state and local laws are ambiguous on whether the issuance of a demolition permit is a purely ministerial action, or whether state public review laws must be complied with that could involve public comments and affect the method, approach to, and timing of the demolition process.

Addressing public perceptions: Whether or not required by the permitting process, the planning process should factor in addressing the concerns of adjacent landowners and neighborhood groups. Modern demolition techniques range from the fast (implosion) to the slow (dismantling on almost a beam-by-beam, brick-by-brick, basis). Adjacent property owners might have strong views on the method and timing of the process. Gaining community and municipal support for the demolition is a key step in the process, emphasizing