Feb 24

Didcot demolition firm had never taken down a power station before

Didcot demolition firm ‘had never taken down a power station before’:

‘The client was made aware that this was our first power station – we’d never done anything like this’

The firm that had been preparing the Didcot power station for demolition before the explosion thought to have killed four people is facing questions over its suitability for the work, after a video emerged of a senior director admitting they had never done this kind of job before.

In a corporate video posted on YouTube, the project director Kieran Conaty revealed that  his Birmingham-based demolition specialists Coleman and Company had never taken down a power station before. “The client was made aware that this was our first power station – we’d never done anything like this,” he said in the video which was uploaded in December. “But we’re that type of a company that we learn to adapt.”

Mr Conaty said the company had brought in an expert with 30 years of experience in both building and demolishing power stations.

But concerns over the firm’s handling of the operation remained after the emergency services said it was “highly unlikely” the three men missing since Tuesday’s explosion would be found alive.

One person has already been confirmed dead when a concrete and steel building at the derelict Didcot A site, in south Oxfordshire, came down at around 4pm.

Police have yet to identify the deceased, although members of the Tees Riders Motorcycle Club identified him as Mick Collings. Friends described him as “a big lad with a massive heart” and an “inspiration”. Five others were taken to hospital, although all but one are expected to be discharged on Wednesday night.

Dave Etheridge, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, said the families of the missing were “obviously distraught”.

He said: “We have not picked up any signs of life but we are doing everything we can to locate their loved ones. It is highly unlikely they are alive.”

The operation “may take several days, possibly several weeks”, he added.

Former plant workers questioned how safe the structure was for men to carry out pre-demolition work inside.

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