JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — PHOTOS: Implosion of Jacksonville cooling towers
The twin cooling towers in North Jacksonville were imploded on Saturday morning, changing the landscape of the city as a result.
It was a bittersweet day for former employees of the St. Johns River Power Park -- which was jointly owned by JEA and Florida Power & Light -- and their families.
"It took 12 seconds to come down, took 10 years to build them," former employee Bob said of the towers.
The towers were part of the SJRPP, which was a large coal-fired electric generating plant that featured two turbine/generators that could each supply 632,000 kilowatts to the transmission grid.
All that's left of the two cooling towers now are two piles of debris. Before the implosion Saturday morning, hundreds of people gathered to share a lifetime worth of memories.
The former workers who devoted three decades to the plant powering Jacksonville say the loss is overwhelming, but also a reminder of all that they've gained.
"We came from all over the United States. They went out and found the best coal fire employees that they could and we just became a family," Bob said.
Family members of employees said they vividly remember moving to Jacksonville in the 1980s as the towers were going up.
"I can remember in elementary school climbing into them when they were in outage and doing tours," said Candice Samples-Morris.
Samples-Morris said her father and husband both worked at the plant. For her, the towers symbolize security and the ability to provide for her daughter, who has special needs.
"It provided insurance benefits and just that security as a kid ... it's kind of like our life," Samples-Morris said.
Samples-Morris said her daughter will have constant reminders of the 464-foot towers that left a lasting impression on Jacksonville's skyline -- and their lives.
"All these guys are still a part of her life," Samples-Morris said. "They pulled together and created their own family here."
The former employees said while they are sad to see the towers go, they're also excited about the future and what this means for the environment.
JEA said closing the plant will reduce the utility's carbon footprint by approximately 30 percent.
A New York company named Total Wrecking & Environmental, LLC blew up the structures.
More than 1,500 pounds of dynamite and 12,000 linear feet of detonation cord were used to bring down both towers simultaneously. The prep work for the implosion took 10 weeks to complete.
The towers were made of 100,000 tons of concrete. Almost 20 tons of steel rods reinforce the towers.
Ten weeks of preparation culminated with the simultaneous implosion of both towers, bringing 100,000 tons of concrete and almost 4,000 tons of reinforcing steel rods to the ground.
Together, they are the second-largest structures of their kind to be imploded in the United States.
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