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…?


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Doug in Seattle

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.

John W. Garrett

Corollary #167 to Part II, subsection (a) of Murphy’s Law:
“Murphy was an optimist.”

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.


The only thing that comes to mind is Murphy’s Law.


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 is what happens when you use Mannian math and explosives. 🙂

Safe for work? Safety at work?

I seems to me that something was wrong, very wrong with the delay pattern. I suspect a miss fire or two. It was also strange that a charge fired after the stack was down.


More cialis please



Rick K

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.”

Douglas DC

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

Ben Hillicoss

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.

Arizona CJ

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….


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?

Dave Wendt

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.

Staffan Lindström

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…

Keith G

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!

Dave Wendt

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.

Phil's Dad

Try to hide that decline!


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.

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?


Good enough for government work 🙂

Doug Badgero

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.


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?

Marcia, Marcia

Seems they should have had cables attached to not allow it to fall the wrong way.


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

Tom in Florida

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.


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….


There was an undetected negative cloud feedback at the base of the conjecture.

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.]

nano pope

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.

Bob in Castlemaine

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.

j ferguson

What? A tipping point behind us?

David A. Evans

Undetected crack indeed.
Total screw-up by the contractor more like.

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.

To “I do not agree there is any similarity to NASA’s decision to send a civilian”, add “into space”.

David Ball

If only Greenpeace had been trying to hang a banner, ……


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

Scarlet Pumpernickel

Computer Modeling FAIL

Scarlet Pumpernickel

Look at the idiots trying to predict when a rock will fall “Computer models LOL”

Mike McMillan

Gravity is a curvature of spacetime. QED


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

Jason Joice

Maybe it was rotten bricks???


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.

Scarlet Pumpernickel

I’d keep kids well away from these, in 1997 in Canberra a fragment from a hospital “implosion” flew across a large lake and hit a girl in the crowd killing her


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.

John Day

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.

John F. Hultquist

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?

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.