Undetected crack causes unpredictable results

From Geekosystem:  [This is a must watch video / safe for work]

On Wednesday, thousands of Springfield, Ohio residents were left without power when a 275-foot smokestack being demolished fell the wrong way, knocking down two 12,500 volt power lines and crushing “several pieces of power equipment,” including a building that stored backup generators.

According to the demolition company that handled the work at the former Ohio Edison Mad River Power Plant (not a nuclear power plant –Ed.), the explosives detonated correctly, “but an undetected crack on the south side of the tower pulled it in a different direction. ‘Nobody’s happy with things that go wrong in life, and sometimes it’s out of our hands and beyond anybody’s prediction. … We’re all extremely thankful no one was injured,’ Kelly told The Columbus Dispatch.”

Watch the video below:

I can think of many metaphors for what this wayward tower represents:  politics, the economy, and climate change come to mind.  Anyone think of some specific metaphors…?

113 thoughts on “Undetected crack causes unpredictable results

  1. If it was just a crack, why are the blasters saying “oh, no” after the first couple of bangs and before the second couple of bangs? They knew something wasn’t right before the tower collapsed the wrong way.

  2. I’ve used similar metaphors with climate models before, at Judith’s and Keith’s. Climate scientists like to pretend that unknowns have little to no impact on their predictions. Here is a very graphic demonstration of how moronic that way of thinking is.

  3. No comment on the metaphors. However, here’s another implosion that went wrong: The Zip Feed Mill, in Sioux Falls, SD, on Dec 3, 2005.

  4. If they didn’t know the crack was there BEFORE the blast, how do they know there was an “undetected crack” after it got blasted in a million pieces?

    It’s fun discovering “evidence” that exonerates you after the fact.

    “Fell the wrong way? Not our fault. It was an undetected crack.”

    “Earth doomed? Not our fault. It was/is CO2.”

    “Trust us. We’re the experts. We know what we’re doing.”

  5. My wife calls it (especially working with pre-schoolers,) ,that is ,”The Teletubby oh-oh.”
    moment.” When something has gone terribly wrong….

  6. were those children counting down??? Were those children calculating the blast???

    notice the delay between zero and the first blast and then the second blast… someone F’ed up and bad, oh well at least no one was hurt.

    Ben

  7. Ummm, hmmm… Let’s see, high explosives… okay, when I think “High explosives”, for some strange reason, the first thing that comes into my head is not “let’s add kids!”

    Maybe I’m just strange….

  8. Well, when a hockey stick has a crack, you’re never quite sure how it’s going to break, either. Will it be the blade or the shaft?

  9. I’m not buying the “undetected crack” excuse, but given the delayed and disorganized retreat from the firing point, it is a minor miracle that no one was taken out by the flailing power lines. One hopes these folks had a good bonding company, because it certainly appears that they’re in for a substantial financial reaming.

  10. Hmmm…This is not Springfield OH,…it’s Springfield, state of Simpson’s… Just shows how
    natural the animations are nowadays… Actually the animators are working on a “cloned”
    animated Universe 1.0 until the end of time…If the real universe is not sustainable enough…

  11. For some reason I’m having trouble linking this one to AGW, metaphorically or whatever.

    Is anyone else puzzled by the sudden detection of the undetected crack? You gotta figure, they had some time to look at the thing while it was standing. Months, maybe? And then there were maybe 7 seconds between detonation and it falling the wrong way, at which point the whole dang thing became one huge mass of easily detected cracks. Everyone in the area seemed to be running and screaming; someone must have really had their wits about them to detect that crack in all the confusion.

    Thanks for sharing the video though. Pretty exciting stuff!

  12. It is rather telling of the level of expertise exhibited that the child present at the firing point was the one who first realized that they all needed to “get out of Dodge”. What she was doing there in the first place is another rather serious question.

  13. I think the contractor hired to do the demolition was unqualified at best and clueless at worst. Why else would they have allowed people watching the event to stand underneath power lines that could come down on top of them if things didn’t go down as planned. A very simple risk analysis would have shown there could be a problem.

  14. Ben Hillicoss says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm
    notice the delay between zero and the first blast and then the second blast… someone F’ed up and bad, oh well at least no one was hurt.

    The split between the two blasts did not peak my senses. What did was: at 00:59 into the video, after the tower was down, the power lines were down…. there was what seemed to be a third blast. Is it possible a charge failed to go off, that failed charge caused the wrong direction of fall, and then the charge ultimately did go off?

  15. I don’t think the last explosion after the stack was down was a charge…….I think it was the power line coming in contact with something and causing an arc and associated boom. You could see the flash through the dust cloud I think.

  16. This reminds me of the Challenger disaster. Back in the 1980’s experts convinced themselves the space shuttle was so safe that it made sense to add an ordinary public-school teacher to the space shuttle’s crew, because it was sure to generate lots of good publicity for the space program. Here a local set of demolition experts convinced themselves that blowing up the tower was so safe that it would be “fun” to have local children participate. Digging deeply into the motives of those who allowed the children to participate would also — almost certainly — find a desire to generate positive publicity. The Challenger publicity stunt literally blew up in the politicians’ faces — high in the sky for everyone to see on world-wide TV. Whoever set up this child-oriented tower demolition was more lucky; no one was hurt. It could easily, however, have been a lot worse: Suppose that countdown group of children had been standing directly under the electric power lines when the tower hit the ground?

  17. Can the UN manage and ordinary collapse of the IPCC? It also has a crack in it the defies patching!

  18. What’s the big deal? This snafu is within one standard deviation of the 30 day running average snafu anomaly during the baseline period 1979-2000. So it’s not worse than we thought.

  19. Obama needs to convene a team of non specialist, to look into the matter, and put a moritorium on blasting until the EPA can determine if this is fit for the environment..yada yada yada….

  20. ZZZ,

    I remember the Challenger explosion, and school teacher/astronaut Christa McAuliffe.

    [SNIP – There. Saved you from hell. (You can thank me after you’re dead.) ~ Evan.]

    [I know, I’m going to hell for that one.]

  21. I’m just surprised no one has blamed Obama yet. This happened under his watch! But wait, it’s really Bush’s fault because it happened under regulatory schemes he instigated. Or was that Clinton? No, it’s the Republicans letting their industry cronies get away with murder. Unless of course it’s the liberals breaking their promises of hope and change. All I know is its the governments fault.

  22. Doug Badgero says:
    November 12, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I agree Doug, the last explosion was probably an electrical fault which occurred as the electrical substation was destroyed.

  23. ZZZ says:
    November 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    It seems to be quite common for some organization, in support of some charity or another, to sponsor a contest, raffle or simple drawing to allow someone, usually a child, to push the button for these type demolitions. I agree someone had a brain-fart to have not been clear of power lines within the drop radius. I do not agree there is any similarity to NASA’s decision to send a civilian.

  24. Marcia, Marcia says: “Seems they should have had cables attached to not allow it to fall the wrong way.”

    Now you tell us.

  25. On the last explosion it looked like the base moved to the right just before the smokestack fell to the left.

  26. HEY! There was an undetected crack…….. prove there wasn’t!
    Maybe they were the contractors own kids, one of those bring your kids to work days.
    One thing’s for sure, next time they need to put that kid that cut and ran first in charge.
    He/she summed up the situation and the potential outcome miles before anyone else.

  27. Seems to be a successful demolition company, but I can’t wrap my head around how a crack could have “pulled” the stack in a different direction from where the charges were set. The second set of charges were obviously on the side that collapsed and brought the tower in that direction, after the first set of charges failed to adequately cripple the tower. If there was a structural crack it should have been identified beforehand, and is a really lousy excuse in any event.

  28. Springfield, Ohio is my old home town. The Edison Power Plant was a familiar landmark. I used to fish for crawdads in the nearby Buck Creek. We’ll miss it. Glad none of the kids were hurt.

  29. Consider the technical difficulty of blowing up an old building with drilling a well in the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Yet there seems to be a higher percentage of screw-ups with the former. Do those in need of explosive folks hire the Marx brothers?

    Now consider the technical difficulty of measuring atmospheric temperature in contrast to the technical difficulty of measuring the mass of sub-atomic particles. Which set of numbers do we believe? Which set of researchers is being paid too much?

  30. The long and the short of it is: $#it happens!

    Sorry folks, people performed to the best of their ability, and something outside of their analysis caused things to go wrong. I don’t know about the qualifications of the firm involved, but somebody approved the entire episode.

  31. Nobody’s happy with things that go wrong in life, and sometimes it’s out of our hands and beyond anybody’s prediction. …

    “I can’t be blamed.”

    Atlas Shrugged, anyone?

  32. David Ball November 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm “If only Greenpeace had been trying to hang a banner”

    But look at this way… He brought down “the fossil-fueled grid” in the process. They would probably martyr the dead spider-man.

    Anyway, I blame the undetected crack on the undetected temperature rise, which caused the metal to undetectedly expand and crack in the first place. Then along came the undetected tidal wave caused by the undetected sea-level rise, to knock it over.

    Fairly obvious, I’d say :-)

  33. Oh sure, you’ve got your crack theories and your failed charges and your incompetent contractors.

    It was obviously a missile!

  34. Id assume those power lines wouldnt have power for the short time of the blast for safety reasons….though that flash seems to say there was power in those lines….if their was..there was safety failures all over that site even before that tower fell the wrong way.

  35. They are calling it a “tower”. I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s a smokestack. Or is “smokestack” now not politically correct for some reason?

  36. There were four separate detonations, the first two fairly close together which did not appear to have much effect, then a third, which destabilised the chimney – it dropped almost vertically by several feet. It could have fallen in any direction. The fourth explosion occurred after the chimney had come down. I would hazard a guess that the demolition gang had used defective equipment (damp fuses?). For that reason alone, if true, the conclusion has to be incompetence on their part.
    An analogy? The IPCC, hopefully.

  37. Total incompetence. Just look at the lack of proper hazard identification. People (including kids) standing under power lines which would obviously be a problem if the tower fell the wrong way.

    Good safety is good business and is a prerequisite for demonstrating competence.

  38. I love it. The little girl notices something isn’t quite right, steps to the left to verify what she is seeing, and then hauls arse… shouting over her shoulder “run.” Meanwhile the two adults on the right just step back and need the prodding of the little girl’s statement to spur them into action. Big sis, or mom (dunno which) looks around to see where everybody went and then figures that maybe running would be a good idea… seeing as things are going bad quite fast and everybody else has figured that out.

  39. Fred Dibnah How to bring down a chimney stack.

    Translation
    “There’s no way it can fall the wrong way, you know. I mean, the bricks are really good, and we’ve eliminated this half of it, so it’s got to go that bloody way, one way or another, you know. Either,… Ideally we want it to go, you know, towards that new brickwork over there, and that’s the way we’ve cut it to go, but square uns (ones) are awkward, and they always want to fall, like, “square-ways”, you know, so we’ll just
    have to see what happens, you know. It either,… it’ll either come dead square or it’ll go over there – one of the two. I’m, what? 80% confident it’ll go over there, but the other, it could, you know, go straight, but it’s gotta come this way.

    We once did one, and we’d engineered it so the Borough Engineer had to light the fire and,… we wouldn’t have done it on this day, if he hadn’t been coming, and it were blowing a force ten bloody gale towards it, you see, and everything went wrong. It were blowing that hard, that the fire sent fire to the field next door. And it was blowing so hard it didn’t even draw (the smoke up the chimney): all the sticks burned away and it stayed up, and it were rocking, going three foot out of plumb, and coming back.
    Now, if anybody’d said that to me, I’d’ve said “I don’t believe you – it’s impossible – something that big could get three foot out of plumb and comeback. No way!” But it’s as true as I bloody stand here, it were going three foot out of plumb and coming back. And in the end, we had to put a jack in the back and jack it up, you know, and it went over – eventually. “

  40. “CNN discovers a new danger of Global Warming.”

    “But the computer model said it would go THAT way!”

    Not metaphors, I know, but…

  41. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley,
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, for promis’d joy!

    Reminds me of the CAGW scam. The elitist think-tank behind this probably still can’t understand how it has become such a divisive issue after the billions spent on pseudo-science and MSM propaganda. The harder climate scientist preach their fire and brimstone, the more antagonistic the public becomes.

    They must find it totally confounding that the strategy designed to get the peoples of the world to join together under an unelected world government has fallen the wrong way!

  42. There is the very similar case involving a piece of buttered toast which slipped of the plate and landed on the floor butter side up. Whilst this was initially thought to be a miracle, a subsecuent papal investigation resulted in the conclusion that the toast had been buttered on the wrong side.
    There is always a simple explanation if one looks.

  43. You can always do it the old fashioned way.

    If the link does not work, search Youtube.com using:

    “Fred Dibnah How to bring down a chimney stack”

    The late great Fred Dibnah a great British icon.
    Some may find the Bolton accent a bit difficult.

  44. In all probability the first boom-boom is the detonating cord going off, which lights the delays that are in the explosives (there is a delay in the cord harness). The second two booms are the actual charges going off. The third report, with a flash, is a standby generator building being hit, seen in the video from another angle shown below (first part of the video is what you see above).

    The stack sits down and to the right because the back fails, possibly from a crack, but, if so, the crack was more likely in one of the hinges as that is where the high stresses concentrate. Once the hinge fails the front notch holds the stack and it falls towards the back because the front has shifted out from under the center of gravity. The back can also fail if then notch is taken too deep, but that is not likely with a reinforced concrete stack, or if the breech is not properly allowed for.

    AP video

  45. I just noticed that the breech is visible in the second video and it is quite high, so that is definitely not associated with the failure.

  46. j ferguson says:
    November 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm
    What? A tipping point behind us?

    “Tipping Point” Pro CAGW

    Or
    “Unintended Consequences” Anti CAGW

  47. My dad was an expert bushman and once got the contract to fell the enormous square-section brick chimney at the old and derelict local brick works. He used similar methods as he would for felling a tree, except for attaching a very long and heavy rope to the top, the other end tied to the back of his truck. He then removed bricks on one side as a scarf to create a ‘hinge’ on the opposing side. When he was satisfied the scarf was about right, he walked to his truck, climbed in and drove quietly away. The chimney measured its length behind the truck. No drama, no fancy hard hats or two-way radios, but no spectators either and a team of us to keep rubberneckers out of the drop zone. And a huge, very long heap of second-hand bricks.

  48. Contractor to parents of children spectators:

    “No, you can not have our demolition research data! We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

  49. Having some logging experience, I have found that trees do not always obey the intentions of the guy with the chainsaw.

    John

  50. And note that good old Fred Dibnah didn’t need a hi-viz jacket or hard hat. Just his flat cap and dirty overalls. He was confident enough to stand only a few yards away even as it came down. What a man!

  51. Prior to the explosion a spokesman for The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Chimney Change) said:

    “Chimneys will fall to the right, this is attributable to human activities.”

    National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent chimney events. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Chimney Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states:

    An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of chimney change in the world and, other changes in the chimney system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the chimneys observed falling to the right over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.

    No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Chimney Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent chimneys falling, with its current non-committal position.

    The Consensus position is that chimneys will fall to the right.

  52. There was a definitely artificial blast right at the end of the video. Pretty obviously an unexploded charge.

    Who was the idiot that decided to put a whole group of schoolchildren underneath a live high-voltage line that was within falling range of the tower? That’s risking a lot of lives based on a risky calculation that, in this case, went bad.

  53. Further from the IPCC spokesman: “We must mitigate for the impacts of chimneys falling to the right, we must regulate the space in the right hand shadow of all chimneys, governments must introduce a chimney tax to raise the funds immediately”

    WUWT blogger said ” Have these “chimney scientists” even checked the angle of the dangle? Their models seem flawed, but they will not let us see the data!”

  54. “Authorities with OSHA said they will not investigate because no one was injured”

    What?

    “We had a near miss that we could learn valuable safety lessons from but because no one got injured this time we won’t bother”

    Sheesh!

  55. Confirmation Bias and colossally bad safety practices. They were planning only for THEIR scenario, not taking into account that it might not turn out that way.

    All accidents are preventable. And this outcome should have been considered and provided for.

  56. This is your Planet.
    This is your Planet in the hands of “Expert Data Adjusters”.
    Even bigger Demo outfits plan on setting charges to the Planets’ climate, based on modeled outcomes.
    Say ‘No’ to Climate Drugs.

  57. The undetected crack happened when the smokestack was whacked with a hockey stick.

    Hockey sticks cause all sorts of tall structures to improperly collapse, including ivory towers.

    (Blue Note: About half of the population should be aware of how a whack from a hockey stick can cause their own long round structures to improperly collapse.)

  58. MjC says:
    November 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    No comment on the metaphors. However, here’s another implosion that went wrong: The Zip Feed Mill, in Sioux Falls, SD, on Dec 3, 2005.

    ==============================
    This one –so amazingly smooth, elegant and efficient– was managed by nothing fancier than a spontaneous arrangement of random natural forces. Not even explosives were needed.

  59. tallbloke says:
    November 13, 2010 at 6:47 am

    “Authorities with OSHA said they will not investigate because no one was injured” What?
    “We had a near miss that we could learn valuable safety lessons from but because no one got injured this time we won’t bother”
    Sheesh!
    Tallbloke I’ve been around my share of aviation accidents, and I can’t say how many times I have seen the NTSB and FAA call “Pilot Error” when the accident scene
    has wreckage scattered over a mile, in a line where the aircraft started falling apart.
    including the remains of the engine that just blew up….

  60. Could it be a metaphor for what has happened to the supposedly well planned scientific tower of Babble campaign against CO2? But then a crack began to appear in the foundation. When the tower of CO2 Babble fell, it cut off their [you fill in the blank].

  61. The Climategate and Amazongate blasts to the base of the already-weakened CAGW/CC/CD monolith have it tottering, on the verge of total collapse. Exactly how, and in which direction it will fall is anyone’s guess, due to a myriad of cracks and fault lines. Those with common sense, like the child, will run, and its collapse will cause a great deal of damage to science and to careers. But, mankind will persevere, and perhaps emerge from the mayhem somewhat wiser.

  62. John Whitman says:
    November 13, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Having some logging experience, I have found that trees do not always obey the intentions of the guy with the chainsaw.

    John are you saying that trees don’t have any regard for the “consensus” opinion?

  63. RE: Rick K: (November 12, 2010 at 6:17 pm)
    “Trust us. We’re the experts. We know what we’re doing.”

    Well, perhaps more often than not …

  64. @Francisco says: November 13, 2010 at 8:18 am

    This one was also done with a technique that was not only mastered by Frank Dibnah, it dates much further back in history, for example during the Medival Warm Period it was a method demolishing castle walls during a siege, basically what you do is you dig a tunnel under a wall, enlarge the tunnel once you are under the wall and place wooden struts to support the ceiling, then fill the room with flammable materials and set it ablaze.

    Also known as (under) mining, it works even better when explosives are used, lots of it. Mind you, this poses a bit of problem when the castle or fortification is build on solid rock, wetlands, sand, behind deep moats and in the middle of lakes.

  65. i hav cut down trees and you always think about all of the options on how the tree might fall. These people were unprepared in my opinion. Standing right under the power lines when you can obviously see that the tower could reach the lines is just plain unprepared. Forget about murphys law here.

  66. http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/springfield-news/many-flee-as-tower-demo-fails-falls-wrong-way-999527.html

    FirstEnergy has worked with the demolition contractor, Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., on other jobs, Suter said, and a lot of preparation went into the project.

    “They’ve taken other towers twice the size of this one down without anything going on,” he said.

    The Idaho-based, family-owned company has been featured in a series on TLC, according to its website. They travel the country with their children doing demolitions.

    The AED website says that Eric Kelly has “a perfect safety record of no accidents in 27 years.”

    AED President/Owner Lisa Kelly said the crack in the tower pulled it in the wrong direction.

    Sometimes things just go wrong.

  67. I have done a lot of farm sile drops and got into it after the local ace had a 1/2 ton fragment land on him. These tower thingy’s have a degree of unpredictability and explosives and their accessaries are not terribly reliable. Slow fuses, damp prima cord, and jsut plain bad luck make for a bad mix. Murphy’s Law is the only constant.
    I figure my good record/reputation was just good luck and a lot of prayer.
    IMHO having spectators under a power line that crossed the shadow was not clever…..reckless….

  68. The British have “Sods Law”

    If a thing can go wrong it will and when it does it will be at the least conveieint moment and in the worst way possible.

  69. Robert says:
    Also known as (under) mining, it works even better when explosives are used, lots of it. Mind you, this poses a bit of problem when the castle or fortification is build on solid rock, wetlands, sand, behind deep moats and in the middle of lakes.
    ===============================
    Lakes? Lakes are crucial in analysis. In fact, it is well known that mental lacunae can often grow to be large enough to swallow reason raw and whole.

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