Crews to start securing toppled crane in Halifax this weekend
Efforts to secure and remove a crane that toppled in downtown Halifax during post-tropical storm Dorian are expected to get underway this weekend.
The construction crane on Brenton Street collapsed and crashed onto a building on South Park Street at the height of Saturday’s storm.
The building is under construction, so no one was inside at the time, and no one was injured.
A section of South Park Street is closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and a number of residents and businesses were forced to evacuate their buildings Monday, as a safety precaution.
Engineers have been on site for days, assessing the damage and trying to determine the safest way to remove the crane from the building.
Nova Scotia Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis said the structural engineers’ removal plan was released Friday, and it has been accepted.
Crews are expected to enter the building and secure each floor, as well as the crane itself, on Saturday.
“There’s two other cranes on standby. They will enter the area. They will start securing the crane,” said Kousoulis. “The crane in sections is held essentially by pretty much one bolt, so they will secure it, and at that point, as the plan sets out, they will start dismantling it and bringing it down.”
Kousoulis said it could take up to two days to secure the crane, while the process of removing it from the site could take up to two weeks.
The area will be contained until the crane is fully dismantled and removed from the scene. There is no word on the when the mandatory evacuation order for residents and businesses in the area might be lifted.
It's a risky job and safety is paramount, said Ron Buchanan, an occupational health and safety inspector.
"I will be on site to monitor," Buchanan said. "I've also required that a structural engineer be here to monitor and if anything changes from the plan that all work ceases immediately and it be reassessed by a structural engineer and we come up with another plan."
Kousoulis said it's a delicate operation that requires some finesse and careful planning.
"In three sections the crane is held together by one column as opposed to four. The other challenge is that I believe the top part of the crane that is resting on the building is 67,000 pounds," Kousoulis said. “We will keep everybody out of harm’s way until the crane is down off of the building.”
Kousoulis said the government is confident in the safety of cranes, and that no crane can operate without approval.
An investigation is underway into how and why the crane fell onto the building.
“It takes about two weeks to dismantle a crane, from what I understand, and when we found out the storm was coming, there’d be no time for the cranes to come down,” he said. “The cranes are supposed to withstand the storm that we had coming here, so that’s why we need to investigate what happened here and let the engineer do their job and learn from it in terms of what brought that crane down.”
The other concern is that there might be damage to the building that the crane fell on and it could be "compromised."
"Over the next two days, they'll be going through that building and shoring up every single floor," Kousoulis said. "They'll essentially be putting posts in place to ensure the building doesn't fall if there is any compromised columns in it."
While all of this is going on, dozens of residents remain out of their homes.
And for the retail outlets and restaurants here, it's hardly business as usual.
“From my understanding, the developer has been very cooperative and he is compensating the evacuated individuals for their inconvenience of being out of their homes,” Kousoulis said.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Amy Stoodley.