Didcot: Recovery team sifts through 17,000 tonnes of material

The recovery team has started clearing a section of the debris pile that has been designated as safe and which is furthest away from the remaining structure of the boiler house.

An exclusion zone has been set up around the remaining part of the boiler house, as RWE says it has been unable to conclude that the structure is stable after consulting with external specialists.

It said: “As such, this area cannot be worked on safely and no-one is permitted to access part of the debris pile that sits within the designated exclusion zone adjacent to it.

“RWE will therefore continue to work with all the authorities involved in the recovery operation on the best way to deal with the remaining part of the building so that necessary recovery work on site can continue beyond the current safe areas.”

Speaking to Construction News in the days after the collapse, Coleman & Company managing director Mark Coleman said he did not believe the structure was at risk of imminent premature collapse, but that “there has to be a risk because of what’s happened adjacent to it”.

RWE said it consulted photographs taken and structural drawings made prior to the collapse, as well as information collected from drones and visual inspections, to “make an informed decision on the stability of the remaining structure”.

There are around 17,000 tonnes of material on the ground, with a further 20,000 tonnes still standing.

Authorities recovered approximately 55 pieces of steelwork of differing sizes and weights for evidence processing.

RWE said the removal works are ongoing seven days a week from dawn until dusk, but that the complex nature of the works meant the search will still take “many weeks”.

The power station was due to be completely demolished by the end of 2016, but RWE said the programme was now “under review” while all efforts are focused on the recovery operation.

The utility firm also provided more information on the steps taken in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the boiler house.

RWE said it began its investigation of the accident and assessment of the remaining boiler house structure within 24 hours of the collapse, collating information from a “safe location”.

The recovery operation to date has been heavily criticised by the families of the three missing men, who held a protest at the site on 13 March calling for efforts to be stepped up.

Christopher Huxtable, 34, from Swansea, Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, both from Rotherham, have been identified as the three missing men. Michael Collings, 53, from Cleveland, was found dead following the collapse.

RWE said: “RWE remains committed to doing everything it can to assist the multi-agency recovery operation and return the three missing men to their families.

“The families of the missing men continue to be kept fully informed by specialist police liaison officers.”

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