Demolition is a beautiful feat of engineering, enjoy the show, says Joe Brinkmann
We have done our calculations and a vibration analysis prediction has been done by a London-based company; we are very confident that the implosion of the twin towers will not cause any damage to properties, says the CEO and managing director of Jet Demolitions
As residents of the National Capital Region gear up to witness the fall of the twin towers on August 28, for one man, it’s just another day at work.
Joe Brinkmann, CEO and managing director of Jet Demolitions, who will be calling the shots on D-Day, spoke to HT about his life and work.
With every demolition project, what are the most important concerns?
Our main concern is always public safety and making sure that the buildings are razed safely, without damaging surrounding properties. So everything is designed keeping the safety of people and property in mind. The nearest building to the twin towers is just nine metres away but we are confident that nothing will happen to it. We have done our calculations and a vibration analysis prediction has been done by a London-based company; we are very confident that the implosion of the twin towers will not cause any damage to properties.
People are worried about the dust cloud and the pollution from the demolition. How harmful will the after-effects be?
Dust from any implosion is inevitable. There is no practical technique for containing dust at source. However, we have been monitoring the wind direction and it seems favourable. Most of the dust will dissipate within 10 minutes and will cause no damage to people or plants. The dust from the blast is composed mostly of calcium, which is a basic plant nutrient. It is present in most fertilisers. It’s not harmful to the environment and it will be dispersed by the wind. Most of the big particles will settle around the site and fine particles will drift a bit and then settle. The Noida authority will get the area cleaned. People will be outside the exclusion zone, so it’s not going to cause harm to them. By the time they return, the dust would have settled.
Will chemicals released from the explosives be harmful to the people nearby?
No. Most explosives have chemicals that will turn to gas during the blast. This will quickly dissipate in the air. The gases from the blast will be nitrogen dioxide, oxygen and carbon dioxide which are the general constituents of air.
Are you using a larger quantity of explosives for the twin towers?
Yes. We are using two or three times the quantity of explosives that we would use in any other building of this scale. Based on the test blast, we realised that this building is strong. It has big columns and more than the usual number of shear walls and steel reinforcement. So, we need to use enough explosives and blast harder to make the concrete lose strength. We need to rupture the columns but also ensure that the debris is contained. For this, more explosives are required. We are also using several layers of protection -- diamond mesh fences, geotextile fabric and perimeter curtains -- to ensure that all debris is contained within the building.
What are the main learnings from this project?
The first is that it is a difficult building to collapse because it is so strong. So, we did learn a lot as it was a unique project. Second, is that we were dealing with a reluctant customer, who put tripping wires along the way. With the Supreme Court monitoring the work, everyone was cautious as well as concerned. The spotlight on the issue added a lot of pressure. Though the Supreme Court was monitoring the Kochi demolition as well, it didn’t have the same involvement as Noida. Working in Noida has been a different experience altogether. There was much more bureaucracy to deal with.
Is demolition a niche area? Should there be more courses to teach the techniques?
There is definitely room for more demolition management courses and there should be more research, but also more practical learning. There are risks involved in making it a mainstream academic area. Safety is the most important concern. Courses on demolition management have started more recently, but the technical aspects are not taught anywhere. That comes from experience. People are concerned about putting something on paper that someone misinterprets and causes an accident.
What would you say to worried neighbours?
It’s (demolition) a beautiful feat of engineering. Sit back and enjoy the show.