Demolitions by implosion can be fun to watch when they go right – or wrong – but nearby residents can be greatly affected by the high powered blasts and huge clouds of debris that follow. A few years ago, a botched demolition in England left dozens of nearby residents unable to return to their homes for several days. Last week, an obsolete Steel Basic Oxygen Plant in Weirton, West Virginia is leaving residents in a similar situation.
Weirton, WV, which is just over the Ohio River on the in the Tri-State area of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania was built on steel. Many families in the area made a good living by working in the many nearby steel plants and I have family from the area that did the same. Like many of the more industrious cities of the past, however, the entire area has been hit hard by the closing of many plants over the past several decades.
The Weirton Steel basic oxygen plant was a symbol of Weirton’s heyday and also of what has been lost. On March 9, 2019, plant that has stood for over 50 years was crumbled by explosives strategically placed by demolition crews. If that was the end of the story, it would be a successful one.
After the implosion took place and the smoke and debris cleared, some of the nearby residents were shocked at the damage done to their houses, according to WTRF in Weirton. Although a 1000 foot safety perimeter was established around the demolition site, there were several homes that fell within that radius. Those residents were ordered to either leave the property or stay inside while the demolition took place.
Several of the residents reported that some of their windows and doors were destroyed, others cited structural damage from the blast. All surrounding the area, in the streets and on the homes, was a layer of dust. While the damage should have never happened in the first place, the good news is that those responsible for the demolition are covering repair costs to homes, as well as the hotel stays while the repairs happen.
Regardless, this should be a reminder that construction and demolition sites have the responsibility to be good neighbors to those around them.
Below is a video shared to YouTube by Weirton Area Museum of the demolition: