Victoria’s defunct Hazelwood Power Station is about to be demolished, with site owner Engie assuring locals that asbestos inside its chimneys will not be a threat.
Engie unveiled its plan to detonate the station’s eight 137m chimneys in an online presentation for the Latrobe Valley community on Thursday evening.
Demolition manager Tom McDowall said that after a thorough risk assessment process, the company had decided that “controlled collapse”, or detonation, was the safest option.
The chimneys will be blown up one by one, four seconds apart, with the collapse of all eight expected to be complete within five minutes.
There is about 50kg of asbestos in each chimney and about 12 tonnes of concrete.
Community members voiced concerns about the spread of asbestos from the explosions during the live Facebook forum.
Mr McDowall said the detonations would not fragment the asbestos and that it would stay contained upon demolition.
“It’s a bonded product, it’s not a fragmentation product, it’s secure within its structure,” he said.
“It then hits the ground and becomes an asbestos product on the ground.”
Mr McDowall said great care would be taken to conduct the demolition in prime weather conditions – a south-east to north-east direction with low wind speed – to control dust and plume from the explosions.
The site will be monitored for asbestos following the demolition in line with state laws.
The chimneys are expected to be demolished in late May or June.
Engie has been managing a process of retiring the brown-coal fuelled power station since it closed in 2017, with the ultimate goal to rehabilitate the 4000 hectare site.
The site has been a headache for the Latrobe Valley community since 2014, when a bushfire spread to the coal mine and burned for 45 days.
Hazelwood Power Corporation was fined $1.56 million on Tuesday in the Supreme Court of Victoria for putting employees and nearby residents at risk by failing to prepare for the fire.