News24

Wind can blow Athlone towers over

2010-04-13 07:32

 Cape Town - Emergency measures have been taken to close the N2 and protect people when the north-westerly wind is stronger than 65km/h - for fear that a strong wind could cause the Athlone cooling towers to be blown over, and that parts of it could fall on this busy highway.

The tenders for the demolition of the two cooling towers of the redundant Athlone power station closed on Friday.

Clive Justus, mayoral committee member for utility services, said the winter wind from the north-west is usually stronger than the south-easterly.

At the Athlone cooling towers, this north-westerly wind blows towards the N2.

"With a wind speed of over 85km/h, the towers could collapse. We don't want it to be blown over and have pieces falling on the road," said Justus.

Five years of wind speeds in the area were studied, and emergency measures were determined in accordance with the study.

Justus said the emergency plans entail, among other things, the closure of the N2, the evacuation of personnel at the premises as well as the evacuation of any pedestrians in the area.

Both foreign and local companies were able to tender for the contract to demolish the towers.

The provisional demolition date is May 30, which is less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup Soccer Tournament.

One of FIFA's requirements is that the N2 in particular - as an important route between the Cape Town International Airport and the CBD - must be in perfect condition.

The preparation work for the demolition is considered dangerous, because 3 000 holes must be drilled into each of the towers for the controlled implosions.

The plan is that both towers will be imploded simultaneously.

In the mean time the towers are being carefully monitored for any further damage or the danger that they may collapse. Justus said the team of consultants are well aware of the risks and the implications the demolition may hold for the environment.

The decision to demolish the towers was taken after the rings which stabilise the towers started disintegrating and falling off.