Local News

Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 06:42 PM

State clears PG&E to finish demolition

  1. 1 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    PG&E has received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to continue with the remaining demolition at the Kern Power Plant site near Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    PG&E has received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to continue with the remaining demolition at the Kern Power Plant site near Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    PG&E has received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to continue with the remaining demolition at the Kern Power Plant site near Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    PG&E has received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to continue with the remaining demolition at the Kern Power Plant site near Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    PG&E has received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to continue with the remaining demolition at the Kern Power Plant site near Rosedale Highway and Coffee Road in Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

State regulators have given Pacific Gas and Electric Co. permission to finish the Coffee Road plant demolition job that went wrong last summer, severely injuring a spectator.

The California Public Utilities Commission and Cal-OSHA had forbidden PG&E from resuming demolition of the former power plant pending completion of their separate investigations of the August accident.

While neither investigation is actually finished, both agencies confirmed Wednesday they have allowed the San Francisco utility to clear the site.

Since summer, the demolition site has remained a jumble of twisted metal and rubble along busy Coffee Road.

The final demolition work is to be done "in a way that preserves evidence for the ongoing investigations," CPUC spokesman Christopher Chow said. He added that neither agency would allow demolition work to continue at the site "until PG&E could demonstrate and assure site safety."

PG&E fired its previous prime contractor on the job, Covina-based Cleveland Wrecking Co., on Aug. 23, citing dissatisfaction with its performance. On Wednesday the utility announced it has hired Oakland-based Silverado Contractors Inc. to finish the job.

PG&E said completing the task will not require explosives. Instead, it said large equipment will be used to dismantle the remaining debris.

The utility would not say when it plans to resume the demolition, which it expects to take 10 weeks to complete. Once cleared, the site will require several years of soil remediation. After that, the company plans to work with city officials to determine an appropriate reuse of the property, which has been idle since 1985.

PG&E said Silverado has successfully completed more than 500 projects, including several for the utility.

A PG&E spokeswoman stated that Silverado was selected using a contractor safety program developed at the CPUC's insistence following a fatality that occurred at the power plant during early stages of its demolition in June 2012.

The CPUC has said the safety program, designed to help PG&E select and manage its demolition contractors, apparently was not in place when more than 1,000 onlookers gathered in the early morning hours Aug. 3 to watch a planned demolition explosion at the power plant site.

Flying debris from the explosion flew across Coffee Road and struck several spectators, including Bakersfield resident Jerry Wood. He suffered critical injuries to both legs and has since undergone about two dozen procedures on his legs.

Cal-OSHA has levied fines totaling $28,400 for a series of alleged violations by Cleveland's two subcontractors involved in the accident. Both companies -- Alpha Explosives Inc., based in Lincoln, and DuBois, Wyoming-based Demtech Inc. -- have appealed the fines. That means the agency's investigation remains open.

But a spokesman said Cal-OSHA investigators have collected all the evidence they need, and so there was no need to hold up the rest of the demolition.

 

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