First of four giant cooling towers collapsed at RWE-owned Biblis nuclear plant in Germany

By Leila Steed08 February 2023

The first of four cooling towers at the Biblis Nuclear Power Station in Germany has been demolished, via a controlled collapse.

Biblis Power Station is owned by German multinational energy company RWE Group and is located south of Frankfurt on the Rhine river.

It comprises two reactor units, known as Block A and Block B, which became operational in the mid-1970s.

The 80 m (262 ft) tall cooling tower, belonging to Block A, was brought down on the morning of Thursday 2 February.

While the name of the demolition contractor was not disclosed, the works are part of plans that will see the entire facility dismantled and a new 300 MW gas-fired power plant built on the Biblis site.

Collapse of the cooling tower was achieved by the insertion of precisely positioned slots in the tower’s concrete shell, and by removing structural supports until it came down.

According to RWE, the use of the controlled collapse method was chosen over the use of explosives, as the tower was situated in close proximity to other buildings and high-voltage power lines.

Nikolaus Valerius, member of the Executive Board of RWE Power AG, said: “The successful demolition of the first cooling tower is another milestone at the Biblis site.

“This means that the continuous progress of the dismantling of the plant, which has been ongoing since summer 2017, will also be visible to the outside world.”

Around 15,000 t of rubble was produced by the tower’s demolition, which will be recycled after the controlled collapse of its sister tower later this month. 

RWE said the resulting rubble from both towers will be recycled into aggregates for use in the production of cement and concrete.

The two remaining cooling towers belonging to Block B are currently scheduled to be taken down in 2024.

Ralf Stüwe, plant manager at Biblis Nuclear Power Station, said: “The project was intensively prepared.

“The successful demolition of the first cooling tower shows that we are tackling the challenges of dismantling safely and mastering them responsibly.”

Biblis Power Station was shut down in 2011 after almost 50 years in operation.

The first phase of deconstruction saw the installation of a processing and treatment facility inside the plant’s existing buildings, where the plant’s systems, components and technical installations could be dismantled and cleaned to reduce radioactive waste.

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