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Old News: Hospital Implosion Kills 12-year-old Girl

As Artvoice reported on September 22, the implosion of the former Kaleida Gates Circle hospital tower is not the sort of event the local media should be promoting as a wholesome spectacle—yet the Buffalo News continues to pump up the hype machine.

Click here to read about the 1997 implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital in Australia.

However, the implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital was a terrible failure. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be later manually demolished. But far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators situated 500 metres away on the opposite side of the Lake, in a location that nobody considered unsafe or inappropriate. A twelve-year-old girl, Katie Bender, was killed instantly, and nine other people were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.

Read the comments on YouTube.

 

500 feet should be good. Nevermind if 650 meters wasn't enough in Canberra.

500 feet should be good. Never mind if 500 meters wasn’t enough in Canberra.


Gates Circle Hospital Implosion Not the Best Live Spectator Sport

As a disclaimer to this Buffalo News story projecting a “big crowd” for the planned October 3 implosion of the former Kaleida Health Millard Fillmore Gates Circle hospital, there are very real air quality concerns associated with such demolitions that potential spectators and nearby residents should know about.

Below is a map showing the implosion site, with the hospital shaded red.

OSC Street Closure_Implosion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Note the “Hospitality Area” on the roof of the parking ramp, near the Command Center!)

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars are to be outside the red boundary when the implosion takes place at 7am. If you live within the red boundary, your best bet is to remain inside your house until the dust settles—at least an hour after the blast, according to this study by Johns Hopkins University, published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.

From the study:

Demolition by implosion is conducted by using

nitroglycerine-based dynamite to strategically destroy

load-bearing structures, allowing the building to collapse

onto itself. Depending on the timing and location of

charges, implosion contractors are able to predetermine

the direction of the collapse and subsequent debris pile.3

(The demolition that is the subject of this paper was

conducted by collapsing a high-rise on top of adjacent

smaller buildings, thereby achieving multiple building

demolitions from a single implosion.) For economic purposes

and to minimize the emission of hazardous chemicals

during demolition or debris removal, recyclable (e.g.,

plumbing and ventilation) and hazardous materials (e.g.,

asbestos and lead [Pb]), respectively, are removed before

the implosion.4 Asbestos removal is federally regulated

under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air

Pollutants (NESHAP, 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M). Depending

on proximity, adjacent buildings may be draped with a

heavy-gauge plastic or woven vinyl to prevent damage

from flying debris. Such a precaution likely has a secondary

benefit of reducing dust infiltration. Emissions and

exposure also can be affected by meteorology. Specific

criteria are site-and contractor-dependent; however, in

general, light precipitation with winds in the direction of

sparse population is desirable. Post-implosion settled dust

control strategies include suppression with water and vacuum

street cleaners.

 

Despite these precautions, the potential for human

exposure to air contaminants from urban building implosions

is great because of a combination of high population

density, the enormous particulate matter (PM) emission

rate, and the resulting high PM concentrations. The

exposure potential is further exacerbated by the spectacle

of the event and media promotion that brings community

residents outdoors and to the site, swelling the exposed

population. In addition to the short-term exposure

concern associated with the airborne PM at the time of

the implosion, there is the potential for longer-term exposure

to PM that settles across the community and then

is available to be resuspended and inhaled or ingested after hand-to-mouth contact.

Here’s a more current Google map of the area, showing the current pile of rubble from the partial demolition of the hospital buildings that has been taking place all summer. Also, with the white descriptive boxes removed, you can more easily see just how many homes and residences are within the blast zone. It will be a matter of which way the wind blows that morning to see who gets the worst of the fallout.

DON'T Get to Gates!

DON’T Get to Gates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few bullet points for would-be spectators and nearby residents, from the study:

Stay away from the implosion. Watch it on TV especially if you are very young, elderly, have immune problems, or a lung disease like asthma.

Stay indoors. If you live near the implosion, keep your doors and windows closed before and for one hour after the implosion.

Implosion dust can get indoors. Use a damp cloth or mop to clean dust from surfaces. Don’t vacuum the dust. Vacuuming stirs the dust back up into the air.

Rinse sidewalks and door stoops with a hose. The dust settles on outdoor surfaces near or downwind from the implosion.

Remove shoes or use a doormat. This will keep the dust from being carried inside.

Ontario Specialty Contracting, the demolition company performing the planned collapse, is hosting an informational session to answer questions on what the implosion entails at the parking lot located at 637 Linwood Avenue at 5pm on Thursday, September 24.

 


GLF Demolition

Tim Tielman of the Campaign for a Greater Buffalo sends this update:

The EPA escorted all employees of Ontario Specialty Contracting (OSC) off
the premises yesterday on suspicion of asbestos violations regarding the
demolition of the Wheeler Elevator and marine tower.

It can be expected that the NYS Dept. of Labor will follow, to investigate
potential worker safety violations.

OSC testified to the Buffalo Preservation Board last year, and in State
Supreme Court this March, that it sought demolition of the historic Wheeler
Elevator and adjacent feed mill to protect its workers. Now it is being
investigated for disregarding its workers' health and safety in the act of
demolition itself.

David Torke of  Fix Buffalo sent in this photograph, taken yesterday of the recommenced demolition of the GLF grain elevators by Ontario Specialty Contracting:

 


Reprieve for GLF Elevators

Tim Tielman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture just called in to say that his group has won a restraining order preventing Ontario Specialty Contracting from moving forward with its plan to demolish two of four structures in the GLF grain elevator complex.

(The photo of the complex to the right is by Bruce Jackson, whose grain elevator studies are exhibited at UB’s Anderson Gallery.)

The city’s Preservation Board, of which Tielman is a member, refused to approve the demolition plan for the historic structures, but the city’s commissioner of permits and inspections, Jim Comerford, issued an emergency demolition order, calling the structures an imminent danger.

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture disagrees, and argues that Ontario Specialty Contracting and the city have not sufficiently investigated the feasibility of preserving the structures.

Judge Timothy Walker granted the stay of execution. When we know more, we’ll post it here.

UPDATE: Here is the petition.