Trash Burning Power Plant

The OES visited the Trash Burning Power Plant on February 15, 2005. Located on the south side of Columbus, the stacks of the power plant were a significant part of the south Columbus skyline for more than two decades. Ground was broken to build the Columbus Refuse and Coal-Fired Municipal Electric Plant in November 1979. On June 16, 1981, during the construction of the plant, a 50-year-old man named Don Hopkins was crushed to death when a two-ton section of ductwork fell on him. Robie Wood, a second worker under the ductwork, was injured, along with Richard Walraven and Nobert Saur, who were working atop the duct and fell with it. The investigation revealed that a section of heavy cable broke, causing the ductwork to fall 20–25 feet to the ground.

The plant began operations in August 1983, eventually burning 3,000 tons of trash and coal to produce 90 megawatts of electricity for the Columbus power grid. During the plant’s operation, it was plagued with problems and was often referred to as the “cash-burning power plant.” Pantyhose would become entangled in machinery, and bowling balls would break machines, not to mention the toxic fumes being emitted from the three 270-foot-tall stacks. Dioxin levels went up for miles around the plant. In 1993, the newly created Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio acquired the plant from the City of Columbus. The plant was shut down in November 1994 due to the financial and environmental strains it caused. The former trash-burning power plant sat vacant for the next decade, being used only as storage for SWACO.

Potential buyers of the plant came and went several times, and a decision to destroy the plant was reached in late 2004. A contractor bid to actually pay $377,000 to bring the building down and recycle the plant’s steel. The first step to the building’s destruction was to implode the three stacks that had loomed over the south side for so many years. The stacks had been cleaned, scrubbed, and vacuumed before 75 pounds of dynamite were used to bring the reinforced concrete and brick stacks down. On the date of our visit, the stacks came down in less than thirty seconds. The large metal section of the building in the last photo remained standing for a few more years until a fire destroyed it. SWACO has since developed the site into a green-style industrial business.

Location Information: Demolished

The power plant was located near the intersection of State Route 104 and Dyer Road in Columbus; Franklin County.