Watch the video of TRC decommissioning Scattergood Generating Station Unit 3 in Los Angeles and one thing becomes obvious: the jobsite was tight.
Like, Clark-Kent-stripping-off-his-suit-in-a-phone-booth-to-become-Superman tight.
The project entailed demolishing and removing Unit 3 while not impacting the other two generation units at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power facility, which were still providing juice to the southern California grid.
A top-to-bottom dismantling of a power plant is challenging enough. Doing it on a snug 1.5-acre job site just ups the ante.
“Safety is always #1,” said TRC’s David Lennon, who saw the project across the finish line as project manager. “You’re removing a very large industrial structure and you have upwards of 80 people on site. Just ensuring everyone was safe and there were no injuries, that was a big part of the whole process.”
Mission accomplished. There were no OSHA recordable injuries over the course of the 443-day project – which translates to almost 1 million man-hours worked.
But the Scattergood project was impressive for a host of other reasons:
The project featured a number of distinct elements all closely entwined and often overlapping during the 17-month schedule – three months of hazardous materials removal, six months of asbestos abatement and seven months of demolition. Amazingly there was no slippage in the schedule. In fact, the project wrapped up three months early.
The old generating station was teeming with hazardous materials, from asbestos and lead to petroleum oil, PCBs and even radioactive components. Not only did TRC serve as program manager on the project, but our building sciences teams did the assessments and verified what needed special handling.
TRC Project Manager Larry Chase, left, stands in front of Scattergood Unit 3
alongside TRC CEO Chris Vincze, center, and TRC Safety Manager Jim Ferrara.
As mentioned, Unit 3 sat next door to two units that are still in operation. Right next door. There was only about 100 feet between Unit 3 and the others. But work crews didn’t just tiptoe around them – they actually had to remove one-third of the building that houses the other two operating units.
That meant everyone had to be extremely gentle with their work – something not typically associated with demolition – so as not to jeopardize power to millions of Los Angeles residents or businesses.
“We had to be careful to avoid any kind of vibration while doing the dismantling because that could affect the equipment still in use,” said Lennon. “If we caused enough of a disturbance it could have led to an outage to the grid.”
Needless to say, they didn’t.
Big Challenges – in the Literal Sense
With a 334-foot tall smokestack to tear down and a 160-ton gantry crane to remove from its perch 100 feet above the ground, Unit 3 reminded workers every day that size does indeed matter.
The stack came down in 20-ton sections with the help of self-erecting scaffolding, and a crawler crane was used to lift the old gantry crane, rotate it and set it on the ground so it could be cut up into manageable pieces.
“We used some pretty awesome equipment to handle those massive components,” said Lennon.
Location, Location, Location
The 55-acre Scattergood Generating Station is directly across the street from the Pacific Ocean. The proximity to El Segundo Beach means a lot of people on foot in the area, so it was important to not only control dust on the site, but also safely manage the heavy truck traffic coming in and out of the site.
When all was said and done, TRC pulled off what Lennon describes as a “systematic dismantling” of Unit 3. Drive by there today and you’d never know it existed.
“Initially it seemed like there was no progress being made,” said Sam Alvarado, the LADWP’s project manager. “Next thing you know, Unit 3 is gone. What was most impressive was the surgical removal of a lot of components of Unit 3. We saw a lot of experts doing their job, safely and efficiently.”
Success – and Heartbreak
While the $26 million project was an enormous success for LADWP, for TRC it was somewhat bittersweet. It was the last job TRC legend Larry Chase worked on before he passed away in February at age 59.
“Larry viewed Scattergood as the highlight of his career,” said Lennon. “I’m just glad he got to see the vast majority of the work completed. We’ll always think of it as Larry’s project. He was a wonderful friend, and there are dozens of us at TRC who miss him every day.”
Chase, who served as TRC’s original project manager at Scattergood, deserves much of the credit for its success. But Lennon and the other 11 TRC employees who worked on the project deserve kudos too for rallying in the face of heartbreak and getting it completed.
“In the face of tragedy, the team demonstrated exceptional resiliency and dedication to the project, the client and each other,” said Mark Robbins, acting president of TRC’s Environmental Sector. “I am proud of them, and I know Larry would be too. The level of professionalism, safety and quality they delivered during this project was truly impressive.”