Agreement reached in smokestack demolition suit


A dispute over who had to pay for damages when a 275-foot tower fell the wrong way during a 2010 Mad River Power Plant demolition project has been resolved.

The trial involving FirstEnergy and the demolition contractors accused of negligence in the botched demolition of the closed power plant’s chimney stack was slated to begin Monday, but representatives from the energy company said an agreement in principle over the damages had been reached.

The settlement is still in the preliminary stages, so details have not been finalized and information is confidential, said Stephanie Walton, communications representative for FirstEnergy.

FirstEnergy, and its sister company Ohio Edison, first filed a lawsuit in November of 2012, two years after the 275-foot smokestack tumbled the wrong direction during its demolition by explosives, falling onto two turbine generators used by the energy company. The lawsuit claimed the damage amounted to more than $19 million in losses.

Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., Bet-Tech Construction Co. and Independence Excavating Inc. were involved in the project and were named in the suit. AED was accused in the suit of negligence, as well as other claims. Bet-Tech and Independence were accused of violating contract and liability claims.

In papers filed in late January, the group of demolition contractors asked the Clark County Common Pleas Court for a continuation of the case, claiming the trial date was “very ambitious in light of the amount of work needed to prepare for trial if the mediation was unsuccessful,” according to the filed motion.

FirstEnergy responded, stating the case had been filed more than a year and the plaintiff wanted a trial date no later than June 2014. In the middle of February, Judge Douglas Rastatter overruled the defense’s motion — meaning the trial would remain scheduled for Monday.

The disputing sides had been unable to come to an agreement on the actual damage costs caused by the botched project, but Wednesday afternoon FirstEnergy said the agreement had been reached.

The suit filed in the common pleas court details what FirstEnergy says led the 275-foot smokestack to fall the wrong way, pointing to a failure to cut a rebar and the way explosives were used.

“Contrary to established industry practice, (Advanced Explosives Demolition) failed to cut the rebar on the rear of the stack,” according to the complaint.

The defense claimed FirstEnergy did not inform AED “of the true condition and repair history of the chimney stack, as it was necessary to properly perform the demolition.”

Debris piles from the accident are still visible on the property more than three years later.

The owner and president of Advanced Explosives Demolition Inc., Lisa Kelly, did not return calls for a comment on agreement by newspaper deadline.


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