Smokestack coming down Saturday morning

BELPRE – The smokestack at a closed power station on Ohio 7 north of Belpre is scheduled to come down Saturday morning.

The charges are expected to be set off after 6 a.m. by Contract Drilling and Blasting LLC, a subcontractor of Brandenburg Industrial Services, the firm hired by American Municipal Power to demolish the Richard H. Gorsuch Power Station.

No place has been set aside for onlookers to watch the 362-foot chimney come down, said Kent Carson, director of media relations at AMP-Ohio. Safety is the primary factor, he said.

“There really is not an area,” Carson said.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks recommends parking on Washington County 10, Blue Knob Road, where the demolition of the structure can be safely watched.

All the parties involved in the demolition will meet at 6 a.m. today, Mincks said. Starting around 6:15 a.m., a series of charges will detonated leading to the final blast which topples the stack.

Ohio 7 in the area of the closed power plant, located across the road from Eramet Marietta, will be briefly closed to all traffic, Mincks said. All traffic on the Ohio River also will be closed during and after the blasts.

Motorists will not be inconvenienced long, he said.

“It’s not going to take very long,” Mincks said.

The weather will be the biggest factor affecting today’s demolition, Carson said.

The site is about 50 acres and the rubble of the smoke stack will remain on power company property.

The company hasn’t determined the future plans for the property, but it has development potential, Carson said. It is close to a four lane highway, the interstate, next to the Ohio River and near a railroad line, he said.

“The site has value,” Carson said.

The Gorsuch Station was a 1950s era power plant fueled by coal, which remains the primary power source for about half of America’s electrical production. Harry Truman was president when the plant began generating electricity.

The plant, which once employed about 80 people and supplied adjacent plants, was closed December 2010 after the company reached an agreement over Clean Air Act violations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Brandenburg began demolition of the station in 2012.