"Dude, they're bringing down the eighty metre stack Saturday morning at seven", my good friend Sam said.
"Awesome man" I replied into my mobile phone, a big grin on my face.
"Your brothers going to be there too" he added, a hint of mirth in his voice, knowing I'd be there for sure now.
"I'll be there mate" I said, surety and confidence in my tone, "what time?"
"Six thirty", he replied before hanging up.
The concrete stack has been at my old workplace since early 1992 when the zinc smelter both of us worked at was forced to control their emissions a little better. The company responded by building a huge bag-house filtration plant powered by a couple of 3000 horse motors. It was basically a huge mother of a vacuum cleaner and the massive concrete stack just pushed filtered hot air into the atmosphere 87 metres (261 feet) from the ground.
Myself, along with another 350 odd employees were retrenched when the plant shut for good. Many employees were distressed (including myself) as when I signed on back in '89 I thought I had a job for life. The company had been functioning on that same site under several differing guises for over 100 years. Sulphide kicked off in the late 1800's as a primitive smelter, became a coal mine, a power plant, a concrete manufacturer, a fertiliser plant and lastly a modern Imperial Smelting Furnace from 1960.
Unable to compete with the modern electrolytic type furnaces for both productivity and lowered emissions the plant closed in 2002.
Sam still works there however as a security guard. He watches over the gradual demolition of a plant that employed over 700 people in its heyday.
Its nearly all gone now as the giant steel chewing machines flattened a mini city and the only things left are the incredibly strong reinforced concrete structures. Its obvious to me now why ferro-concrete construction is the building method of choice for bomb shelters.......
The eighty metre stack was one such structure.
"They used twelve kilograms of plastic high explosive around the base after they punched a hole through it on one side and cut the reo (reinforcing steel)", Sam informed me as we stood together from a good vantage point.
It was a cold Autumn morning and kind of fitting for the death of a giant.
We joked around a little, set up our digital cameras and tripods and waited until seven. The five minute siren sounded and everyone went quiet. Again at three minutes and at one minute until detonation a continuous tone sounded.
Even from 300 meters (900 feet) the explosion as 12 kilograms of hi-ex detonated was truly massive. It was the deepest boom I have ever heard in my life and the stack lurched considerably to the left then fell. It was so high that it seemed to fall to its death in slow motion, slowly picking up speed.
Then we were greeted with an even deeper boom as several hundred tonnes of concrete and steel hit the ground from a great height. The effect on us was amazing and instant as the very ground under us shook and we felt the rumble as much as heard it.
I hope it gives some of the others a piece of finality too.
Would you like to see it for yourself?
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