Hazelwood Power Station Chimney demolition

25 May 2020

This entry has little to do with radio but concerns a significant local event.

My usual morning routine over the past few weeks has been to participate in an Activity Marathon, chasing contacts with other Australian and New Zealand radio amateurs as a diverse from the “stay at home” orders. Along the lines of qualifying a SOTA summit, the idea is to make at least four contacts each UTC day. So from 0000 UTC, I spend about 30 minutes finding stations calling and making contacts. But today, this was followed by a short local trip….

The Hazelwood Power Station was built in the early 1960s and provided base load power to Victoria by burning brown coal from the adjacent Morwell open cut mine.

The Power Station closed at the end of March 2017. Since that time, work has occurred to safely decommission the power station and mining plant, followed by the planning and works associated with rehabilitation of the site.

Early on the afternoon of Monday 25 May 2020, the eight 137 m high chimneys were bought down by controlled demolition charges. You will find excellent videos on other sites, including the Hazelwood Rehabilitation site: http://www.hazelwoodrehabilitation.com.au/

I have served for several years as a community member of the Environmental Review Committee (ERC) for the Station and Mine. Members of the ERC were expecting to be invited to view the demolition of the chimneys from within the property boundary, but the COVID19 pandemic and resulting restrictions caused those plans to be cancelled.

I could have watched one of the live stream sites from the comfort of home, but decided to head out and watch from the southern end of the Hazelwood Cooling Pondage.

The Google Earth image shows the Power Station near the top of the image and my viewing site near the bottom of the image, about 3.5 km from the Station. Part of the town of Churchill is visible in the lower right.

Google Earth image of the Hazelwood Power Station and Cooling Pondage. Thanks to Google Earth.

Many people were observed parked at locations with a view of the Power Station as I drove to my chosen site. I was on site well before the announced possible start time of 1100. There were many cars parked in the area, but most individuals maintained good physical distancing.

View of the Power Station late in the morning

At around 1125, word spread of a delay until 1155. At 1214 some water sprays started. The task of the sprays was to help suppress any dust. We thought that the action might commence soon….

The real action finally started at 1227, when we could see some dust from chimney number 1 – the southernmost. We started to hear the explosions shortly afterwards. There were a series of explosions and the chimneys started to fall….

By 1235, it was all over apart from the dust cloud settling. I started walking back to my car and headed off to the post office to check my mail and collect two parcels.

The eight chimneys have been an iconic landmark in the Latrobe Valley for 55 years. I am sure that they will be missed by many. Work on demolition will continue over coming months, further changing the local landscape.

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