Prelude to a Demolition

by Felix J. Spittler, Project Engineer; MK Ferguson, St. Charles, MO,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 3, Pg. 52-55

Document Type: Feature article


Building demolition conjures up images of explosives detonating or a wrecking ball haphazardly slamming into the side of a structure until it's reduced to a pile of rubble. But when the buildings have been exposed to toxic chemicals and radiological contaminants, a meticulous cleanup strategy must be followed before the structures are finally dismantled. This was the case during the $900 million Weldon Spring Superfund project, 30 mi west of St. Louis. The project encompasses the demolition of 44 buildings (12 of which were severely contaminated), a quarry cleanup 4 mi off-site and the cleanup of a 51 acre area occupied by raffinate pits once used to collect residue from uranium-processing operations on the former military site. Work is slated for completion in 2002. The remediation approach for the contaminated buildings included 14 steps that fit into the four general categories of preliminary preparation; removal of construction hazards; removal of environmental hazards; and removal of the structure.

Subject Headings: Environmental issues | Demolition | Construction management | Pollution | Risk management | Structural reliability | Imaging techniques | Explosions

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