The end has come

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 09:45 13/01/2014
DAILY NEWS ONLINE

Roy Weaver talks about Port Taranaki's purchase of the New Plymouth Power Station and what lies ahead.

From the chimney
ROBERT CHARLES Zoom
Looking up at the chimney from the ground.

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Demolition of the New Plymouth power station will begin this month.

Several buildings on the 18 hectare site, which was bought for $15.5 million by Port Taranaki in the middle of last year, including the tall red boiler house, will come down.

But the chimney and turbine hall which have dominated the coastal skyline for 40 years will remain intact.

The 165 metre by 40 metre, 20 storey turbine hall, which is the smaller of the two red buildings on the site, will be gutted of its contents, which includes five 120 megawatt turbine units.

"It's a mammoth job," Port Taranaki chief executive Roy Weaver said. "We think demolition will take about 18 months."

"Taking all of the equipment out of the turbine hall is quite a dangerous operation."

Mr Weaver estimated there would be about 25,000 tonnes of scrap, which included large steel beams, piping and copper wire.

"The planning for the demolition was huge, especially the health and safety organisation."

He said once its contents were removed, the building would be used to store bulk dry cargoes. A call for tenders to deal with the scrap would be made separately.

Other areas and buildings which had been part of the power station, including three large tanks that had been bought by the port, would be re-developed for use storing bulk liquids, dry goods or logs in the future, Mr Weaver said.

"The port has very little flat land beside it - there's 12 hectares of flat land on this site.

"If we'd had to reclaim it from the sea, it would have cost about $5 million a hectare."

Mr Weaver said to reclaim 12 hectares would cost $60 million and he was confident even with the cost of demolition, which he was unable to release at this point, the purchase of the power station was a good move for the port.

He said the port was fortunate to have acquired a piece of land that would help it grow and prosper.

With the purchase of the power station came two of its staff - site supervisor Brian Hall, who had worked there since 1973 and Denis Leatham, facilities maintenance, who had spent 35 years doing various jobs at the station.

Mr Hall said it was sad to see it decommissioned five years ago.

"The irony is there's power stations like this in other parts of New Zealand that are going strong.

"But I don't like to get sentimental about it."

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