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A new one-hour TV series called "The Blasters" will premier in the US this Wednesday night, February 8th, at 8:00 pm (est) on the Discovery Channel. The program represents the first continuous "series" on structural blasting produced for network television.

The program profiles several of the world's most skilled blasting contractors as they implode buildings around the globe. Segments for the series were shot in Athens, Amman, Dublin and London, as well as domestic blasts in North Carolina, Ohio and North Dakota.

The Blasters is unlike other documentary efforts in that it follows several companies simultaneously, and represents a true portrait of what blasters encounter when imploding large urban structures. Unforeseen challenges such as security delays, technical obstacles, and even the occasional structure that doesn't fall down, are shown with accompanying insight provided by respective contractors. (The segment featuring Twikenham Stadium in London is particularly compelling, as blasters were in the midst of loading explosives when terrorist bombs were detonated just three miles away in the downtown district last July.)

What does not appear in the program are any contractors making the usual absurd claims of having "invented the industry" and other embellished "first family of this or that" nonsense that has marginalized many blasting programs in recent decades. took an active role as a consultant on this series, which aspires to lead by example in showing that blasting programs don't have to lie or mislead viewers to be entertaining.

The Blasters premiers February 6th in the United Kingdom and February 23rd in Canada. Premier dates for Discovery Europe, Discovery Asia and Discovery Australia are scheduled but have not been publicly announced.

In the United States, several of the "Blaster" episodes will repeat on Sunday afternoon February 26th at 2:00pm (est).

In other blast programming news, a Modern Marvels episode airing on the History Channel the same night & time (2/8 8pm) will profile a hotel implosion in Clearwater, Florida, and a program on National Geographic will feature a hotel implosion in Miami Beach on February 23rd.


Author: Jeff Byles
2005 Harmony Books / Crown Publishing

Reviewed by Brent Blanchard /

As a 20-year demolition consultant and historian who was approached by Mr. Byles in 2002 to supply facts for this book, I had high expectations that it would provide an entertaining - and accurate - look at the history of the demolition industry. Thus it was disappointing to find scores of issues that render this book virtually useless to the casual reader and offensive to the serious demolitionist. Its inaccuracies are many and substantial, and in the age of James Frye/Oprah Winfrey, where repeatedly sacrificing truthfulness for entertainment value is exposed as intentionally deceptive, this effort is about as irresponsible as it gets.

Mr. Byles writes that his idea for this book was formed while watching the twin towers fall on 9/11 and the resulting demolition activities at Ground Zero. However, instead of performing research by visiting jobsites and speaking with experienced demolitionists, the author openly elected to solicit over-the-top hyperbolic sound bites ("I have set off more big bangs than anybody on earth in peacetime") from three or four self-serving contractors who were willing to pontificate poignant phrases on demand ("We are seizers, we seize… the building is fighting me, but I've got to bring her to her knees… [via a] symphony of failure") in return for gushing favorable mention (Just one of Mr. Byles' selected demo buddies is hailed as, "the philosopher king of destruction… part matador, part sage, part connoisseur of collapse… a convinced neurobiologist… the dentist of urban decay… the Mozart of dynamite… the Guru of gravity…", and many more). Perhaps this would be warranted and even entertaining, if any of it were true.

To make things worse, Mr. Byles then dovetailed those sound bites with references to dozens of previously published articles - many of which themselves are well known to be inaccurate - and un-researched personal prose to paint a grand, sweeping verbal extrapolation on the demolition industry.

The lack of fact checking for this book is astonishing: Not counting the first two chapters that cover the well worn but interesting ground of how demolition was used to control fires in the 1600s, Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot and various other developments transpiring up to the 1940s, an astounding 74 of the remaining 231 pages read as an endless run of long-disproven misrepresentations, attacks on industry trade publications and mocking ridicule of virtually all responsible demolitionists worldwide (when mentioned at all, thousands of contractors outside of Byles' small cabal of sound bite buddies are dismissed as "glum rivals" and "detractors", "skulking around" while engaged in "industry bickering"). So many quotes and statements in the book are just plain untrue or appear wildly out of context, this space doesn't allow listing them all.

But above all, the most inexcusable aspect of this book is its hypocrisy. At its lowest point, the book takes several demo contractors to task for two tragic fatalities that resulted from building implosions in Glasgow and Canberra, then piles on additional derision with unflattering quotes and personal commentary. Is this warranted? Perhaps. However further on, when describing one of several fatalities suffered by one of his favored sound biters, Mr. Byles sees fit to hold them completely unaccountable, writing, "In a freak explosion that remains unexplained to this day, the dynamite detonated [and killed the bystander]."

Come again with that? Mr. Byles, the first rule of blasting is that a detonation is never, ever unexplained. OSHA sure found a way to explain it while serving up record fines for willful safety violations in connection with the event. Similar biased and hypocritical statements are made in other parts of the book, and Mr. Byles never explains why he avoids mentioning the disproportionate long-term OSHA/safety problems associated with his favored spokespeople.

It's not a stretch to note that inaccurate statements are so prevalent in this book, Mr. Byles may find himself on shaky moral and legal ground if a developer who suffers an accident on their jobsite ever maintains that they made their contracting choice in part due to the statements made herein.

It serves no purpose to mention names of the author's buddies, because that's not the point. It could be anyone. In the end the only name is Jeff Byles, who has gambled his reputation that he could trust his sources as truthful, and has lost his shirt. By constantly devolving to the catchiest or kitschiest phrase, bypassing verbal interaction with more than a handful of demolitionists, and playing favorites, Mr. Byles not only misses the mark on accuracy but misses the essence of what it's like to deconstruct structures every day for a living. Which was supposedly the point of writing the book. Thus it is difficult to imagine how a reader will come away from their experience with a better understanding of this diverse profession.


April 6, 2005

A detailed review of the recent National Geographic Channel implosion program titled Demolition Dynasty has revealed more than 30 significant accuracy errors that appear to call into question the research techniques used at the network (click here to read the complete review). conducted a detailed review of the program after receiving numerous inquiries, complaints and requests for clarification from various industry veterans, media organizations and members of the general public.

Demolition Dynasty was the first of a three-part series originally broadcast nationally in the United States in December 2004, and has received additional heavy airplay over the past four months. The US debut was followed by multiple airings in the UK through the winter of 2005. The two companion programs are titled World Record Implosions and Exploding Las Vegas (both re-work the same general material).

In researching the 60-minute program, discovered scores of statements, made via voice-over narrative and on-screen interviews, that were either completely unfounded or inaccurate to a degree that they misled the viewer.

Examples include a wide variety of assertions involving current world records, contractor performance and safety records, individual contributions to the industry, the current state of the industry and the origins of explosive demolition in general. In each case, statements appearing in the program were contradicted by substantial existing evidence, and appeared to be skewed in a manner that favored the producer's interests. contacted National Geographic Senior Researcher, Genevieve Sexton, for comment during the course of the review. Ms. Sexton responded in part, "The goal of our program was to present a history of CDI's (Controlled Demolition Inc. / Loizeaux Co.) work. We understand the implosion industry is a competitive one, and we hope to represent it in an accurate and unbiased manner." While offering other general comments, Ms. Sexton stopped short of commenting on National Geographic's research protocol or responding to any of the specific inaccuracies raised by

National Demolition Association Executive Director, Michael Taylor, and researchers at Guiness World Records were also contacted for comment during the course of the review, as they were also profiled making inaccurate assertions. Mr. Taylor responded in part, "I was speaking in general terms based mostly on what I've read and seen on TV, and it is certainly possible that I was wrong on some of the facts. My job is to promote the industry, and my heartfelt apologies go out to any NDA members who feels harmed or injured by my comments." Guinness World Records, who National Geographic implied has supplied independent recognition or verification of the many inaccurate World Record claims appearing in the program, has yet to respond to repeated requests for clarification.

In a curious repetition of history, Demolition Dynasty borrowed its name from another National Geographic documentary of the same name originally released in 1988. The original version was also roundly criticized by various demolition contractors at the time for its highly inaccurate portrayal of the industry, and to this day many veteran blasters point to the program as the beginning of a deceitful, manipulative era of documentary filmmaking responsible for perpetuating many of the false "implosion" stereotypes still held today.



April 5, 2005

A report released earlier today by the US Justice Department criticizes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) for failing to perform adequate background checks on more than 600 individuals working in the domestic explosives industry.

The report claims that the ATF failed to complete background checks on many individuals who possessed criminal records, including some felonies, and that these workers were permitted access to explosives under "review pending" status for an average of 299 days.

"Our review found critical deficiencies in the ATF's implementation of the background check and clearance process that prevented the agency from ensuring that prohibited persons are denied access to explosives," the report said.

The report also acknowledged the difficulty in monitoring every individual who handles explosives, noting that more than 5 billion pounds of explosives are used in the US each year by a diverse group of industries such as mining, construction, demolition, fireworks, safety manufacturing and medical research.

Click here and here to read other news articles on this subject.


February 22, 2005

A demolition worker was killed Saturday while preparing a high-rise towerblock for implosion in Dublin, Ireland.

The worker, an employee of blasting contractor Professional Demolition Consultancy Ltd. and whose name has not been released, was reportedly preparing an interior stairwell for the March 6 implosion of the Sean McDermott Tower in Ballymun when a large section broke free and collapsed on top of him.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) announced a formal investigation into the incident yesterday.

The circumstances of the accident were unusually similar to the last fatality to befall the explosive demolition industry, which occurred exactly five years ago. On February 24, 2000, a 22-year-old employee of Baltimore-based Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI) and another worker were killed when a large section of a concrete silo they were drilling for explosives placement broke free without warning and collapsed on top of them.

In that incident, investigators with the US Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) eventually cited and fined both CDI and their contracting agent for multiple safety violations.

DC CONVENTION CENTER TO BE BLASTED exclusive, December 13, 2004-
Officials have scheduled the explosive demolition of the old Convention Center in downtown Washington DC for Saturday morning, December 18th.

The mammoth 800,000 square-foot structure will be brought down by Demolition Dynamics of Franklin, Tennessee, working in alliance with Wrecking Corp. of America and Goel Services.

Project officials have been clear to point out that the implosion will only involve the building's central basement columns, first floor columns and steel truss roof. A 20-foot wide section of the structure running parallel to H Street and most of the perimeter walls will not be felled with explosives due to the close proximity of adjacent structures, but will be brought down conventionally over the following weeks. The Convention Center is bordered by many high-profile structures, including the US Treasury Office, US Office of Homeland Security, US Secret Service, Smithsonian Building, the Grand Hyatt Washington and Renaissance Washington Hotel.

The announcement establishing the scope of Saturday's demolition phase is apparently related to erroneous press coverage of another large implosion occurring a few weeks ago near Boston, at the Fore River Shipbuilding Facility. Immediately following that blast, two local TV stations and several local news websites inaccurately described the implosion as a failure when they witnessed only two of the three giant bridge and tower networks being blasted. In reality, the third network stood directly on the border of an adjoining town, and its demolition required a separate process of permits and approvals. Although the structure was never loaded with explosives and has still not been approved for demolition as of the writing of this article, the original inaccurate "implosion failure" reports were picked up by additional news media and broadcast across the country.

The old DC Convention Center site will eventually be developed into a parking facility to accommodate visitors to the new Convention Center that is located one block to the north.


April 6, 2004

Fred Williams, former explosives manager of T.W. Ward (Industrial Dismantling) Ltd, died on March 30th at age 79.

He began his career working the coal mining industry as a shotfirer and progressed to above ground demolition at the age of 25. Initially using traditional demolition methods as a site foreman, Fred specialised in industrial steel structure demolition.

As an industry pioneer he soon put his previous explosive knowledge in to practice and was one of the first explosive engineers demolish large scale steel structures by the controlled use of explosives. Fred became a member of the Institute of Explosives Engineers in the mid 1970's.

During his 40 year demolition career he successfully demolished hundreds of large industrial structures including blast furnaces, bunkers, chimneys, cooling towers etc… throughout the UK.

Fred passed on his vast knowledge of experience to his son Mick Williams who remains active as Explosives Manager for Controlled Demolition Group Limited in Yorkshire.

VETERANS STADIUM IMPLOSION DATE SET Exclusive, February 3, 2004 11:30am

Officials with the Philadelphia Phillies and Brandenburg Industrial Services, general demolition contractor for the removal of Veterans Stadium, have set a blast date of March 21st for the explosive demolition of the 32-year old sports and entertainment venue.

This past October, Demolition Dynamics Company of Franklin, Tennessee was selected as explosives specialty subcontractor to perform the actual implosion. Teams from Brandenburg and Demolition Dynamics are currently working six-day weeks to ensure the structure is safely brought down prior to the opening of the Phillies new home, Citizen's Bank Park, which is located just east of the old stadium.

Demolition Dynamics is widely regarded as one of the premier implosion specialists in the world, having performed more full-sized stadium projects than any other blasting contractor. In December 2002, the team imploded Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium in an impressive effort that left unharmed dozens of expensive floor-to-ceiling windows in the new Great American Ballpark located less than 24 feet away.

While Veterans Stadium is generally the same size as Riverfront Stadium, this project is viewed as a more straightforward endeavor. The closest adjacent homes and liabilities stand approximately 170 to 350 feet from the closest blast point, and security sight lines across the Vet's expansive parking lots are more accommodating that the dense inner-city environment present in Cincinnati. In addition, the Philadelphia blast plan calls for the use of less explosives, as project officials have elected to increase the scope of conventional pre-implosion demolition.

WORLD RECORD BLAST TO OCCUR IN OHIO Exclusive, October 17, 2003

Blasting experts at Demtech Inc., Dubois, Wyoming, are set to break the world record for longest single structure blast when they demolish a 2,682 foot-long steel truss bridge in Ohio later this fall.

According to Demtech President Scott Gustafson, the team will use approximately 62 lbs. of 600-grain RDX linear shaped charges to fell nine spans on one instantaneous delay. Demtech felled an identical bridge in two separate phases in 2002.

When completed, the project will join an impressive list of current World Record holders including:

Largest Single Structure: Sears Warehouse, 2.7 million square feet

Tallest Free-Standing Structure: Matla Power Plant Stack, 906 feet

Tallest Supported Structure: CBC Transmission Tower, 1217 feet

Tallest Building: Hudson's Department Store, 439 feet

Most Structures Demolished in Single Blast: Calgary Medical Center & Stelco Steel Plant, 20

Editors Note: Due to safety and crowd-control concerns, is complying with a request to withhold specific date and location information until after this project has been performed. Additional information will be posted soon in "World Records" and "Blasts From The Past".


October 9, 2003

Managing Director Darren Palin received the prestigious Silver Helmet Award for Safety on behalf of his firm, Controlled Demolition Group Ltd. (no relation to CDI-USA) at the 2003 Contract Journal Construction Industry Awards held last week at London's Grosvenor Hotel.

The honor was particularly noteworthy as it marks the first time since the award's inception in 1975 that the Silver Helmet has been presented to a demolition contractor. Controlled Demolition Group (CDG) was selected over four of the United Kingdom's most reputable construction-related firms, Taylor Woodrow, Wates Group, Billington
Structures and Skanska UK.

CDG has reportedly invested more than $4 million in new safety enhancing equipment such as ultra high-reach excavators and remote-controlled robotic excavators, plus an additional $250,000 in various employee health and training initiatives.

The Yorkshire, UK-based company was also recently awarded the RoSPA Gold Health and Safety Award and the National Safety Award from the British Safety Council. "We are always delighted to be recognized for our safety efforts," said CDG Managing Director Darren Palin, "but to be awarded the Silver Helmet represents a major watershed for the demolition industry as a whole."


October 4, 2003

Barry Lowe, former Managing Director of Nottingham Explosives Ltd., died yesterday after battling a prolonged illness. He was 71 years old.

As detailed in a previous report on this website, Mr. Lowe realized a level of success experienced by few others in the explosive demolition industry. He began his career in 1954 by blasting concrete bridges and bunkers as a member of the Explosives Special Forces division of England's renowned SAS. Lowe's transition into the commercial sector followed shortly thereafter when he was contracted to perform numerous explosive demolition projects for both private and government clients. He eventually consolidated his team's efforts in 1972 by establishing Nottingham Explosives Ltd., and went on to become one of the founding members of the Institute of Explosives Engineers in 1974.

In Nottingham's first year of operation it secured a contract to explosively raze the 53-span Awsworth Viaduct, a record that reportedly still stands. The firm went on to enjoy unprecedented success over five decades, credited in large part to the experience passed down from Barry to his son, Phillip. Phillip Lowe recently approved the merger of Nottingham Explosives with another demolition firm, and he remains active in the structural blasting industry today.

Barry Lowe's track record and integrity were put to the test in 2000 when was researching the history of explosive demolition. At the time, Nottingham Explosives was one of three blasting companies actively promoting themselves as having felled more than three thousand structures apiece (with one American firm claiming upwards of seven thousand). openly questioned the accuracy of these assertions by challenging each contractor to substantiate their claim in any way. Of the three, only Lowe possessed the ability to authenticate his work history. The other claims remain dubious to this day.

Funeral services for Lowe have been scheduled for October 14th


Project Managers from all five primary demolition contractors that worked to clear the World Trade Center site in New York appeared together for the first time recently to answer questions and relate their experiences in a compelling seminar at the National Association of Demolition Contractor's (NADC) 30th Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida USA.

Several hundred delegates attended the highly anticipated "no-question-is-off-limits" Q&A session. Speakers included David Griffin Jr., Vice President of D.H. Griffin, Inc. and Demolition Consultant for the Ground Zero site, Mike Richman of Gateway Demolition, Ed King of Mazzocchi Wrecking, Jon Manafort of Manafort Brothers and Dennis Dannenfelser of Yannuzzi Demolition & Disposal. Each firm was responsible for one quadrant of the site's cleanup during the six months after 9/11.

The panel fielded questions for more than ninety minutes, ranging from logistical and mobilization issues to payment for various services, to the emotional toll on their employees and personal lives. They also recounted dramatic anecdotes that seemed to reveal as much about their divergent personalities as the challenges they faced.

Griffin told of how he gathered up his family and drove through the night to the site from North Carolina upon hearing the first news reports. He also recalled with both pride and amazement how workers logged over 3 million man-hours, in 24-hour shifts, without a single fatality. King related the extreme difficulties in keeping his entire fleet of excavators, high-reaches, cranes and other equipment operating 24 hours a day for weeks on end. Richman described his team's anxiety in pulling down large unstable sections of the South Tower, some as tall as 26 stories. Manafort recounted his crew's desperate attempts to complete the job by any means possible, including cutting loose a piece of the North Tower, attaching it to a crane and swinging it for days to demolish other heavily damaged buildings.

Although every speaker captivated the standing-room only crowd with various stories, it was Dannenfelser who provided some of the most compelling observations. Having spent months coordinating retrieval efforts at the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, he spoke of working closely with the FBI and other agencies in developing various types of debris filtering machines, including one that could recognize small amounts of "human material" for DNA identification. He also spoke of retrieving, "about 10,000 pieces of the airplanes, which I kept in a pile by my truck for safekeeping."

Each of the speakers commented on the dangers involved. Toxic smoke, unstable mountains of debris, conflicting crane "swing zones", and navigating through hundreds of police and firemen searching for co-workers - including some who had literally fallen asleep on the rubble piles - were just a few of the perils the demolition teams faced on a continuous basis. Several recounted losing personal friends in the initial collapse of the structures, while others spoke candidly of teetering on the brink of losing their wives and families due to the all-consuming task of seeing the project through to completion.

Another point of interest was the fact that up to $15 million remains to be reimbursed to various contractors for the cleanup effort. Several speakers described the extensive damage sustained by their heavy equipment after running it so long and hard in such an unforgiving environment. As one explained, "When we went there, nobody was talking about money…it just wasn't brought up. The only questions were, 'How much equipment can you get here and how fast?' Now it's eighteen months later, and the auditing and adjustments never seem to end. Auditors are asking why a given man or piece of equipment was needed on a given day, or if I went out and got three prices, etc."

While the speakers stopped short of criticizing the process, they said they looked forward to the day when everything would be resolved.


December 2, 2002

The following bulletin has been issued by the Society of Explosives Engineers:

The Safe Explosives Act was part of the Homeland Security Bill which President Bush signed today. Among other things, it includes licensing of explosives as explained here...

The legislation creates a new category of permit -- a "limited permit" -- designed for the intrastate purchaser who buys explosives infrequently and does not intend to transport or use the explosives interstate. This permit will allow the purchaser to receive explosive materials from an in-State explosives licensee or permittee on no more than six (6) occasions during the period of the permit. The permit will allow ATF to better monitor explosives commerce in an effort to enhance homeland security, but is designed to not be overly burdensome to legitimate purchasers. The limited permit is valid for one year and is renewable. ATF intends to set the application fee for the limited permit at $25.

The new legislation requires that all applicants for explosives licenses and permits submit photographs and fingerprints so that ATF can perform thorough background checks. The legislation also requires that all applicants submit the names and identifying information of all employees who will possess explosive materials. In this way, ATF can conduct a thorough background check to ensure that these individuals are not prohibited from receiving or possessing explosives. Under previous law, no background checks were conducted for the employees of businesses that used explosives. The business owners or managers were required to be on record with ATF; employees such as warehousemen and drivers were not. The new legislation enables ATF to systematically identify and conduct background checks on such employees to reduce the risk that prohibited persons will gain access to explosives.


November 19, 2002

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms is soliciting comments concerning notification to local fire marshals and law enforcement officers when explosives are stored on jobsites.

According to a bulletin sent to members of the International Society of Engineers (ISEE), existing regulations may be revised in an effort to further ensure the safety of emergency response personnel responding to fires at sites where explosives are used.

This solicitation for comments is apparently preventive in nature, and does not appear to have been precipitated by any specific accident or occurrence. Comments may be sent to ISEE Executive Director Jeffrey Dean at

Click here to read ISEE bulletin


November 5, 2002

The implosion of Cincinnati's historic Riverfront Stadium (aka Cinergy Field) received final approval from County Commissioners yesterday, and project managers with O'Rourke Wrecking Company have announced a blast date of December 29, 2002.

The stadium was built in 1969 and served as home field for football's Cincinnatti Bengals and baseball's World Champion Reds, the latter of which earned a fearsome reputation as "The Big Red Machine" during the 1970s.

O'Rourke Wrecking has subcontracted the actual implosion process to D.H. Griffin Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina.

D.H. Griffin's explosives division, led by blasting veteran Steve Pettigrew, garnered acclaim in 1997 when they became the first team to implode a full-sized sports facility (Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium). The team went on to successfully demolish a large section of Toronto's Exhibition Stadium in 1998. According to several industry officials, the two projects continue to serve as the benchmark for large-scale blasts, as they stand today as the only incident-free stadium implosions performed in North America.

The event is currently scheduled to occur at 8:00am, and officials are planning to impose a 500-foot security perimeter around the site.

BROWN STEPS DOWN Exclusive, August 1, 2002

Steve Brown, Editor of Demolition & Recycling International (D&Ri), has announced his departure from the magazine following the October 2002 issue.

D&Ri is published bi-monthly by KHL Group, East Sussex UK. In recent years, the magazine has served as a reliable source for news and information pertaining to the international demolition community.

According to D&Ri Editorial Director, Paul Marsden, the selection of a new Editor for the magazine is expected to proceed smoothly. "We are currently exploring several options," Marsden said, "and expect to name a suitable replacement in the near future." Brown, along with a business associate, Ben Shaw, recently formed SE10 Creative, an advertising/public relations agency.

Brown told the fledgling company will be targeting construction, demolition and heavy equipment clients with an eye towards exploiting their extensive knowledge of these markets. The firm recently established offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA and Tunbridge Wells, Great Britain, UK.


July 9, 2002- Organizers of the 2002 International Demolition & Recycling Exposition (IDREX) have announced an indefinite postponement of the event.

Earlier this afternoon, organizers released a statement that began with the following:

What was to be this year's prime event for the world's demolition and recycling industry, IDREX 2002, has been postponed following feedback from industry's equipment manufacturers. Despite almost industry-wide support for the event when it was first announced in 2000, the current difficult economic climate has put pressure on budgets and many of the sector's top manufacturers found that they could not give the support they would have liked to the event.

A spokesman for IDREX organiser, IPI, said, "We have had to take the difficult decision to postpone IDREX 2002 despite some great initial support for the event. We feel that it would be better to postpone the event rather than try and hold a conference and exhibition which might not meet everyone's high expectations. We will now be talking to the exhibitors that supported IDREX 2002, and those that couldn't through budgetary pressure, to establish when the industry would like the next IDREX event to take place.

IDREX 2002 was due to take place in Maastricht in The Netherlands in September of this year. The event was to be held alongside two other shows, APEX (for the world's access platform industry) and RentEX (for the European Rental industry). Both APEX and RentEX are going ahead and the show organisers report that both events will be record size this year.


Nottingham Explosives Ltd. Managing Director Phillip Lowe has announced that his firm will be bought out by Yorkshire, England-based Controlled Demolition Group (CDG) by the end of next week. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Rumors of an impending Nottingham-CDG deal had been circulating within the industry for weeks, and the sale of the UK's third-most active structural explosive demolition contractor to the world's most active firm is expected to solidify CDG's grip on the majority of "blowdown" work in Western Europe. Although several additional explosive demolition companies continue to operate successfully in the region, it is widely believed that only Germany-based Verkehrsbau Union (VBU), parent company of Cardem Demolition and several other contracting firms, is capable of completing a comparative volume of work.

In its 30 years of existence, Nottingham Explosives realized a level of success experienced by few others in the industry. Founder Barry Lowe began his career in 1954 by blasting concrete bridges and bunkers as a member of the Explosives Special Forces division of England's renowned SAS. He then began working commercially, completing numerous explosive demolition projects for a variety of private and government clients. Lowe eventually consolidated his team's efforts in 1972 with the establishment of Nottingham Explosives Ltd., and went on to become one of the founding members of the Institute of Explosives Engineers in 1974.

Within the firm's first official year of operation, it secured a contract to explosively raze the 53-span Awsworth Viaduct, a record that reportedly still stands today. The Nottingham team went on to enjoy unprecedented success over the next three decades, demolishing approximately 3,000 structures* and maintaining a reputation as one of the most active and experienced blasting contractors in the world.

Although Lowe personally managed a large portion of Nottingham's work, the company's overall sales volume was achieved with considerable assistance from his son, Phillip, who started with the firm in 1981 and became a Director in 1986. Some of the younger Lowe's more recent challenges have been the explosive demolition of two 20-story apartment buildings in Birmingham and the felling of a 650-foot, 125-year-old viaduct in Leicester.

Phillip has stated he intends to stay active in the industry as part of the Controlled Demolition Group team of explosives engineers. He recently told, "Blasting is and always will be my life's work. I'm looking forward to spending more time applying my experience in the field and less with the daily routine of managing a large company."

*It is policy to verify all specific numerical claims related to blasting performance prior to reporting them as fact.


Controlled Demolition Group, Ltd. (CDG) Managing Director Charles Moran has informed of his planned retirement from the company effective November 2001.

Mr. Moran established CDG in 1981, and over the following two decades built the firm into one of the most successful and prominent demolition contractors in the world. The Yorkshire, England-based company currently employs 140 people and “blows down” more buildings annually than any other contractor, having explosively felled over 40 high-rise towers and numerous other structures in 2001. In September, Controlled Demolition Group was awarded “UK Contractor of the Year” honors for the second consecutive year.

CDG’s new ownership will include current Commercial Director Darren Palin and Steve Forster. Mr. Moran reports that he will maintain close ties with the company, continuing on as a consultant “into the foreseeable future.”


On September 11, 2001, several independent vibration monitoring firms were recording ground vibration data on construction and demoliton sites throughout New York City. These seismographs recorded data that relates to the terrorist attacks that morning, and Protec Documentation Services, along with several other firms, is in the process of pooling this data.

The goal of this collective effort, spearheaded by Dr. Ed Walter & Associates, is to help ascertain which, if any, structures located beyond the actual World Trade Center site may have been affected by the event.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends and families who have been touched by this tragedy, and we appreciate the calls and e-mails from around the world checking on the well-being of our employees.

BLASTER ESTABLISHES NEW FIRM Exclusive, August 17, 2001

Eric Kelly, a 25-year veteran of the explosive demolition industry, has left the employ of Engineered Demolition Inc. to form a new structural blasting firm.

Advanced Explosive Demolition Inc. (AED) established operations in Hayden Lake, Idaho earlier this month, and the blast team has since felled structures in Missoula, Montana and Sydney, Nova Scotia. AED has at least one project scheduled for September, the explosive demolition of the Hygeia Refrigeration Building in Elmira, New York.


June 2001- An explosive demolition project in the town of Flaminzi, Romania has reportedly failed to fell the intended structure while unintentionally damaging 24 adjacent houses.

News reports state that the blast caused heavy damage to windows in buildings located within a 500-foot radius, and caused the roofs of two nearby buildings to collapse.

The reports do not say whether there were any injuries resulting from the event, nor do they name the blast team or describe the structural condition of adjacent structures prior to the blast.

Click here to read report from National Monitor (Romania)
Click here to read report from National Monitor (English Version)
Click here to read report from


April 2001- A member of the International Society of Explosives Engineers, Gordon Revey, has reported that a 4-watt handheld radio recently caused the detonation of an electric detonator on a U.S. blasting project.

According to Mr. Revey, the blaster “lost several fingers and incurred severe damage to both hands” as a result of the event. Mr. Revey also reports that the radio was closer than the minimum distance mandated by the Institute of Explosive Makers Radio Frequency Table for the radio in question. The names of the blaster and his employer, as well as the accident location, were not disclosed.

Click here to read ISEE blastserve safety alert


March 2001- OSHA has reaffirmed fines and violations related to a demolition accident that killed two workers at the Monterey Mine near Albers, Illinois in February 2000. The fines and violations had been contested by both of the firms cited in the mishap.

The violations stem from the premature collapse of a section of a 165-foot tall concrete silo that was being prepared for explosive demolition. Killed in the collapse were 22-year-old Kevin Auchter, an employee of Controlled Demolition, Inc., and 29-year-old Scott McGee, an employee of RBS Excavating. Both CDI and the project’s general contractor, Ciminelli Services Corp.were reportedly cited under “Standard 19260021/Construction, Safety Training and Education.”

According to OSHA’s website, the case was officially closed last month.

Click here to review OSHA’s summary of this incident


March 2001- Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have issued a press release on the hazards of breathing dust at implosion projects.

Dr. Timothy Buckley, PhD, recently led a team that tested the density of dust particles following the implosion of a 22-story high-rise in Baltimore, Maryland. Their research found, in part, that during the 20-minute period after the blast, average particle levels downwind from the blast were two to ten times higher than the standard for outdoor air set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Another researcher, Peyton Eggleston, MD, concluded, “These airborne particles, depending on their size, concentration, and chemical composition, have been shown to be harmful to health.” The press release concludes by offering recommendations for reducing exposure to the particles.

Editor’s Note- This study fails to address a fundamental issue, which is comparing the effects of dust generated from explosive demolition to that generated by conventional means (wrecking ball, heavy equipment, etc.). The report seems to imply that if there were no implosion, there would be no dust emanating from a demolition site. Over the past several decades, one of the most noteworthy advantages to explosive demolition has been recognized as the ability to release dust particles at a pre-determined time to allow nearby citizens to take appropriate precautions.

Click here to read Johns Hopkins University press release


February 2001- A comprehensive report detailing facts pertaining to the St. Vincent’s Hospital blowdown in Dublin, Ireland was recently presented to a joint meeting of the Republic of Ireland Branch of the Institute of Structural Engineers and the Structures and Construction Section of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland at TCD, Dublin.

The report, authored by Declan Monaghan (Arup Consulting Engineers), Robert Johnstone (Robert Johnstone Associates) and Charles Moran (Controlled Demolition Group), details various calculations and decisions leading up to the January 21, 2001 blowdown in which the 13-story Nurses Quarters structure failed to collapse as initially planned. The structure was felled by crane and wrecking ball later the same day with no adverse effect to surrounding structures.

Click here to read relevant pages of the final report
(Adobe PDF file, 2.4MB)


January 2001- Transcripts recently released under the Freedom of Information Act have provided an inside look at the Government’s case against Controlled Demolition Inc. and its principals.

In February 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Mark Loizeaux, Douglas Loizeaux and Controlled Demolition, Inc. on charges of falsely reporting campaign contributions by asking family members and CDI employees to donate to the campaign of State Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. According to the Washington Post, prosecutors alleged the donors then received money from the company to cover their checks, and the Cummings campaign recorded the money as individual contributions. Other published reports noted that Cummings, an attorney by trade, was privately retained by CDI prior to being elected to congress.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the illegal contributions were alleged to have taken place between 1996 and 1998. The Loizeaux brothers and CDI were eventually acquitted of the charges in September 2000.

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