Atlas Copco Rental compressed air makes a safer implosion at the San Francisco bay

Houston, USA, December 7, 2015: Atlas Copco Rental Oil-Free air compressors create underwater buffer during implosion of pier. The San Francisco Bay being a significant ecological habitat in California, words like explosives and implosion generated concern when they were used to discuss how the 80-year-old San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge’s 21 piers should be demolished.

November 24, 2015

An implosion conducted Nov. 14 was designed to prove the curtain bubble strategy.

It was successfully completed on Pier E3, the largest of the piers—the equivalent of a five story concrete building. General contractor Kiewit/Manson was in charge of the operation, using Atlas Copco Rental 1,600 cfm Oil-Free compressors to supply air at full capacity to the blast-buffering bubble curtain.

Blake Gearhart, Vice President of Operations West for Atlas Copco Rental North America, pointed out that the air compressors are California Air Resource Board (CARB) permitted.

“Kiewit/Manson is a socially responsible company and they needed diesel-powered air compressors. We were an obvious choice because our compressors are CARB permitted.”

Blake Gearhart

Brian Ford, Atlas Copco Rental Area Sales Manager out of Livermore, Calif., said assembling a fleet of so many 1,600 cfm compressors for a job is not a small undertaking.

“We were confident we could provide what they needed ... We have the largest fleet of 100% Oil-Free air compressors that are both diesel powered and CARB-permitted in North America.”

Brian Ford

Ford said the high-volume Atlas Copco Rental models were particularly well suited to an environmentally sensitive project because they introduce 100 percent oil-free air into the water. As an added measure of safety, each compressor’s base provides fluid containment.

All eyes were on Pier 3 the day of the demonstration.

It was streamed live online and given live coverage on television. The compressors maintained the curtain, no problem.

“This pier implosion was the culmination of years of collaborative preparation and planning. The combination of science, technology and engineering with environmental stewardship is historical.”

Leah Robinson-Leach, Bay Bridge spokesperson from the California Department of Transportation

For six seconds, a sequential series of blasts from 600 explosive charges rumbled through the structure, fracturing the reinforced concrete, which collapsed into the pier’s own honeycomb-like base below the bay floor. It left nothing to retrieve but the blast covers floating in the foam, which had been over the structure as an added precaution against potential flyrock.

“Initial studies including three days of round-the-clock observation after the blast have determined no injuries or deaths to aquatic wildlife.”

CalTrans

“This method has proven itself to be the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly.”

Brian Maroney, Bay Bridge chief engineer

The successful demonstration of blasting in the bay may now be used on the other piers, all that remains of the Bay Bridge after construction of a new Skyway between San Francisco and Oakland.


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Atlas Copco is a world-leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions. The Group serves customers with innovative compressors, vacuum solutions and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. Atlas Copco develops products and service focused on productivity, energy efficiency, safety and ergonomics. The company was founded in 1873, is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 180 countries. In 2015, Atlas Copco had revenues of BSEK 102 (BEUR 11) and more than 43 000 employees.


Specialty Rental is a division within Atlas Copco’s Construction Technique business area. It serves customers in the industry segments around the world with temporary air, nitrogen, steam and power rental solutions. The specialty rental services are offered under several brands. The divisional headquarters is located in Houston, USA.