Underwater breaking for Atlas Copco attachments

Atlas Copco breakers perform wet work to demolish Cuyahoga River dams

RiverReach used an Atlas Copco SB 552 breaker, a Komatsu mini excavator, and a modular barge to demolish the Sheraton Mill Dam.
RiverReach used an Atlas Copco SB 552 breaker, a Komatsu mini excavator, and a modular barge to demolish the Sheraton Mill Dam.

Atlas Copco breakers have been used to delve beneath the surface to demolish dams on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio.

The work is taking place as part of efforts to return the once-polluted river to its pre-industrial state. The project includes the removal of the Sheraton Mill Dam, and the LeFever Dam, both of which were previously used to provide hydroelectric power to local industries.

The work was undertaken by Ohio-headquartered RiverReach Construction, specialists in environmental stream and wetland restoration projects. The demolition was performed quickly and efficiently with the help of Atlas Copco hydraulic breakers equipped with underwater kits.

RiverReach sourced the breakers from Columbus Equipment Company, an authorised Atlas Copco distributor. The firm supplied RiverReach with a heavy-duty Atlas Copco HB 3100 and a compact Atlas Copco SB 552. An Atlas Copco XAS 185 compressor was also enlisted to provide a flow of compressed air to prevent water from entering the percussion mechanisms of the breakers.

The Sheraton Mill Dam, which was 12m long and 3m high, had to be approached from upstream, posing a significant challenge for the demolition professionals. RiverReach’s solution was to attach the SB 552 breaker to a Komatsu mini excavator, and float the machine into place behind the dam using a modular barge.

The team began by using the breaker to open up ‘windows’, allowing water to flow downstream. This strategy caused the water level behind the dam to sink gradually, allowing RiverReach staff to push on with the demolition.

“It was almost too easy with that big breaker,” commented operator Shannon Swaino.

At 24m long and 4m high, the LeFever Dam had a significantly larger volume of water behind it. RiverReach was able to construct an access channel to the river so that Swaino could approach the job from downstream. As no barge was needed, demolition of this structure was completed swiftly and effectively.

The demolition projects have exposed the Cuyahoga River’s white-water rapids and waterfalls, which have been unavailable to local residents for a century. Once demolition was complete, RiverReach cleaned up depris that had gathered over the years, as well as remnants of concrete and rebar.

The firm’s final job was to build protective concrete support walls for the old powerhouses, which will guard the historic structures from fluctuations in river flow and passing debris.


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