Bridge Response Highlights Profession's Skills, Director Says

National Demolition Association Executive Director Michael R. Taylor said the recovery work being done by St. Paul, Minn.-based specialty contractor Carl Bolander & Sons Co. to remove debris from the site of the tragic Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis is typical of the type of emergency response tasks of which demolition contractors are capable.

"Many emergency response coordinators are turning to demolition contractors to supplement first responders' work by providing fleets of specialized heavy equipment, skilled labor needed to operate the complex machinery, and years of experience," Taylor said in a news release. "When the Minnesota Department of Transportation contracted with Carl Bolander & Sons, they specifically indicated that they based their choice of contractor on experience, how quickly they could respond, and what equipment they had on hand."

A member of NDA, Bolander is using four 100-ton cranes and three excavators to process the debris in the $15 million project. The contractor will remove debris from the land before proceeding to the channel. The National Transportation Safety Board plans to reassemble the recovered debris in a designated staging area in an effort to determine the cause of the collapse.

Taylor noted that California has launched a new Emergency Partnership Advisory Workgroup of state agencies and nonprofit and private-sector entities so necessary resources will be available to respond to events such as earthquakes, flood, fires, freezes, mudslides, and the threat of terrorist action. Also, NDA is currently working with OSHA to develop a Disaster Site Workers Training and Certification Program to train and pre-certify private-sector workers so they can be on standby to respond immediately to disaster situations. "We are already working with many fire departments across the country to support the investigation of fire causes and the cleanup after fire," Taylor said. "We want all states and municipalities to follow the example of California and organize their resources before the next disaster strikes."

The association is a nonprofit trade organization representing more than 1,100 U.S. and Canadian companies and many international firms that are involved in the demolition process. For more information, visit www.demolitionassociation.com.

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