Demolition takes down smoke stack of generating station

Demolition crews at the Grand Lake Generating Station began taking down a portion of the old coal-fired plant, near Minto, this morning.
The demolition of the smoke stack for the Grand Lake Generating Station took place Thursday. (Roy Gjelstad/CBC)

Demolition crews at the Grand Lake Generating Station began taking down a portion of the old coal-fired plant, near Minto, this morning.

A controlled demolition of the 78-metre smoke stack went ahead at about 9 a.m., according to Erik Matchett, an NB Power spokesman.

"The sirens went off and then a countdown was activated and then residents heard a blast which was fairly loud and then immediately after that — probably five to 10 seconds — the structure started to shift," Matchett described. "It sort of appeared slow motion and then once gravity took hold the stack came down exactly where it was intended to fall."

The coal-fired plant was built in 1931. (CBC)

Matchett estimated about 200 people came out to watch.

"Bang! Bang! Bang! It stood there for like a second before it actually moved and then… boom! It just came down, it was something to see, really. Quite a show, the crowd was pleased," Randy Mole, a spectator, told CBC news.

"This is certainly a milestone event for the community. The Grand Lake Generating Station has been in the area for over 75 years. So this is quite a day for local residents," Matchett said.

The plant shut down in 2010.

"The majority of the community are out and waiting and watching, as so many of them have either worked at the plant or had relatives work at the plant. It's quite a day for them."

For some former miners, the demolition was bittersweet.

"It's like anything else, it's been around here for years. You hate to see it go, but I guess it's modern times and modern progress and it was time for it to go. It had to go," said retired miner Larry Wasson.

John Logue worked at the power plant for 30 years and thinks the end of Minto's power production industry is bad for the community.

"This is the end of coal mining, It don't make me feel very good because there always were jobs before. Now, there's no jobs, so the younger people can't stay. They have to move on and it's very bad for our community," Logue told CBC News.

Matchett says demolition is expected to be complete sometime next year.

There are conditions set in an Environmental Impact Assessment to clean up the site. A large power house and smaller attached buildings remain and are now being taken down.

The site is being turned in to 16 hectares of public green space.