Kokomo Gas Holder - Kokomo, Indiana

Kokomo Gas Holder - Kokomo, Indiana

Stacey S. Loizeaux

On September 7, 2003, the Kokomo, Indiana skyline, as it had existed for over half a century, was changed forever. The Kokomo Gas & Fuel Company’s 387’ tall, 22-sided structure, was felled through the use of explosives.

Built in 1954 by KG&F, the 12 million cubic foot holder became virtually obsolete in the 1970’s due to new technology for the liquefaction of natural gas. As the gas holder had provided only minimal storage over the past ten (10) years, the decision was made by KG&F to demolish the gas holder rather than invest in the high costs of maintaining same.

KG&F contracted Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) of Phoenix, Maryland to decommission and demolish the gas holder. The project was negotiated with CDI as they had previously demolished gas holders of similar size, construction and proximity to adjacent structures to remain.

CDI’s approach to the project was multi-faceted, beginning with environmental remediation operations. Commencing in July of 2003, CDI purged the existing natural gas out of the holder then pumped and recycled approximately 18,000 gallons of sealant oil from the tank to allow for subsequent torch-cutting operations. Extensive paint, soil and air testing and monitoring was conducted prior to and throughout the duration of the project to ensure an environmentally safe project for both workers and Kokomo residents. Just prior to the implosion, selected adjacent properties, including a pre-school daycare center, were covered with geotextile fabric and plastic as an additional precaution to preclude the possibility of any dust/lead paint chip invasion which could possibly be freed when the tank was felled.

CDI crews prepared selected structural elements of the tower for subsequent explosives placement, including the modification of 22 trusses comprising the roof, lower portions of the steel “skin” and vertical supports.

It took CDI three (3) days to place a total of less than 100 lb. of linear shaped charges and conventional explosives on 136 cut points throughout the structure.

On Sunday, September 7th at approximately 7:30AM, literally thousands of residents lined the streets of Kokomo to watch their red and white checker-topped landmark come toppling to the ground. Bright flashes sparked across the middle of tower as it fell to the ground in a heap of distorted metal within 10 seconds of the first charge detonation.

CDI’s crews utilized torches and excavators equipped with shears and grapples over an eight (8) week period to downsize the 3,000 tons of steel for recycling.

Dave McFatridge, General Manager for KG&F, wrote to CDI:

“From the earliest meetings when you explained to us the timeline of events and what your people would be doing through yesterday’s implosion, I am amazed that a project of this magnitude can go as smoothly as it has. Thank you for the professional way that you have led us through this project to date.”