What's next for Sappi Paper after implosion?

6:01 PM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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Rubble of former Sappi Paper mill

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Decades of Muskegon's manufacturing history came crashing down Sunday morning. It took just 10 seconds to bring the old Sappi powerhouse to the ground, creating a pile of steel weighing 3,700 tons.

The building landed very close to where explosives experts were aiming. "About two degrees off, so that was very good," said demolisher Steven Murray.

The implosion was also without any major issues, a relief for Melching Inc. project engineer Ken Callow. "If it was an Olympic sport, I would give it a 10."

Over the next six weeks, a pile of rubble will be picked apart and cut into small pieces. "We need to cut it up into four foot lengths," explained Callow.

The steel is heading to a nearby metal recycler where it will be melted down and eventually used to build something else.

The demolition did damage some windows in the Lakeside neighborhood. "We had about six homes in the nearby neighborhood that had windows that knocked out. Some right next door did not. It may be the condition of the windows, however still that is our responsibility," said Callow. Melching Inc. is covering the cost of fixing the damage.

City leaders believe this waterfront site holds great potential. Melching Inc. only plans to clear this 120 acre site. Any future development will be up to someone else.

We are not a developer; Melching will do the demolition work and clear the site," said Callow. "We have an interested buyer now that we have been talking to and it is all confidential. We hope that works out. We think that would be great for the community if it does."

The next big explosion at this site is expected to in late winter or early spring-- after the twisted pile of steel from Sunday's implosion is gone.

The two large remaining smokestacks are 75 feet taller than the powerhouse building. When they do come down, one will be tipped over like the technique used over the weekend. The older of the two smokestacks will likely tip slightly, then collapse on top of itself.

By Jon Mills

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