Miami-Dade County

Explosives will raze old FPL plant in Fort Lauderdale

Gone in 60 seconds.

That’s how long it is expected to take to raze the half-century-old power plant and its four iconic candy-cane-striped smokestacks at Port Everglades.

Florida Power & Light and its contractors on Friday detailed plans for what promises to be spectacular demolition scheduled for 6:45 a.m. Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale — with the oil-burning, soot-belching relic making way for a cleaner, greener $1.1 billion facility.

Some 200 pounds of dynamite sticks and linear-shaped charges, specially designed to cut 1.5-inch thick steel beams in half, are being strategically placed to fell the four boiler units — towering industrial steel structures that resemble rusting stand-ins for a Transformers movie.

Another 250 pounds of explosive will then bring down the 350-foot-tall smokestacks, the tallest structures on the Fort Lauderdale skyline when they went up in the early 1960s. The charges are being timed so the stacks will fall in a crisscross pattern to climax the job, two one way then two the other.

“The whole demolition sequence from the first indication of sound to the last stack falling will be 60 seconds,’’ said Steve Pettigrew, a vice president for Contract Drilling & Blasting, a Jacksonville-based contractor whose crew was drilling holes, setting charges and running wires across the plant, which FPL shut down earlier this year in preparation for the demolition.

With the power plant located in an industrial area at the edge of Port Everglades, there are few nearby residents to worry about disturbing, but Pettigrew said the string of 90 tightly spaced blasts will be relatively quiet. He likened it to “a loud thunderstorm.’’

For security and safety reasons, the demolition will take place largely out of out public sight. Port roads will be closed in advance, there are no designated public viewing areas and boat traffic will be kept at a distance. Local television stations plan to broadcast live from a viewing site at the Broward County Convention Center and FPL will show a live web feed at

It will be the third aging, oil-burning power plant that FPL has razed in the last few years, with plants in Port Canaveral and Riviera Beach preceding it. North Carolina-based D.H Griffin Companies, which handled the demolition of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta and the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City, is the general contractor for the removal of the old Fort Lauderdale plant, which is expected to wrap up by March 2014.

FPL said the plant that will replace it, billed as a “next generation clean energy center,’’ will burn natural gas and cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse” gas contributing to climate change, by half and reduce overall emissions by 90 percent. Three gray stacks about 150 feet tall will be built as part of the new project, which is expected to go online in 2016.