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Smokestacks At Former Shenango Coke Works Imploded

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NEVILLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- Stalwarts of Pittsburgh's more industrial time, the Shenango smokestacks, passed into the history books with an echoing blast and a crushing fall to the ground on Tuesday.

"What I saw for the last 37 years disappeared in about 3 seconds," said Dave Kacsur, who was one of the last employees when the plant closed a couple of years ago.

Shenango Coke Works implosion
Photo Credit: KDKA

"The blast went as well as planned, and the weather cooperated, "said Independence Demolition General Superintendent Rich Wilk.

For Kacsur, there were a lot of emotions watching his former workplace disintegrate into a cloud of dust.

"I was used to it around the clock, working turn work, working holidays," Kacsur said. "The guys I used to work with were fantastic. I miss 'em. A lot of memories, a lot of good memories."

Everything was soaked down in advance to hold down on the dust. The weather, an important factor to the residents who live across the Ohio River and a short distance down Neville Island, cooperated, with a light wind blowing to the west. Residents were worried about what the cloud of dust would contain.

"I don't think it could have gone any better, the wind direction and the cloud burst broke up very quickly," said Ohio Township Acting Police Chief Joe Hanny.

"These particular structures did not have any environmental stuff, like asbestos or stuff like that, Ron Burnette, the Director of Operations for property owner DTE Energy Services said. "So the cloud was the dust of pulverized bricks, mortar, and decades of dust."

And Wilk added, "As far as I could see, it stayed in the property lines, so the measures we did put out worked."

WATCH: Raw Video Of Smokestack Implosion:

A few blocks down Neville Island, the homes on First Street were in the cloud's path, had it gotten that far. Betty Young was working in the yard when the booms of the implosion echoed down the island.

"That's about when I sat down on the deck to eat and I didn't see anything," Young said.

John Lawrence lives across the street and came out to look for the cloud.
"Didn't see much of anything,' he said. "Whatever they sprayed it down with, they did a pretty good job of keeping the dust down."

Just in case, the Allegheny County Health Department was monitoring the cloud and the air quality. It issued a statement a couple hours after the implosion.

"The demolition was completed without any issues," Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker said. "Wind direction forced the dust that was created from the implosion away from the Sewickley and Ben Avon boroughs, and the dust settled within a few minutes. Based on the first set of hourly data that we received from the Avalon monitor, the implosion had no impact."
The smokestacks are in piles now and the cleanup of the site will continue for a couple more years.

DTE must clean up the site to EPA standards and after that?

"The reuse or redevelopment, whatever it ends up being, hasn't been determined yet." DET Energy Spokesman Brian Corbett said.

Currently, the rest of the site is scheduled to be demolished by conventional mechanical means and no further implosions are expected.

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