News

Athlone Cooling Towers to be Demolished

13 February 2010

The two cooling towers at the old Athlone power station will be demolished as soon as the report of the City of Cape Town's structural engineers has been studied and steps taken not to disrupt any essential municipal services in the process, Alderman Clive Justus, Mayoral Committee for Utilities announced at a media briefing today.

Parts of the reinforcement rings around one of the towers, fitted as an additional safety measure in 1992, fell to the ground in the early hours of this morning. The N2 was closed as a precautionary measure for a very short period, but reopened after structural engineers advised there was no danger to passing traffic.

Alderman Justus explained that the tower site also houses electricity transformers for the transmission of electricity to southern suburbs. There is also a water reticulation system on site to cool down the transformers. This is why the City would have to take care in any demolition process not to affect this cooling system or the operation of the transformers so as to ensure a constant supply of electricity to consumers.

He said the towers serve no useful purpose. Electricity generation on the site was stopped in 2002 and there was no plans for any future generation on site. A decision to decommission the site was taken in 2006.

According to the structural engineers initial assessment, the loss of the rings does not necessarily compromise the integrity of the cooling towers, but the City is monitoring the situation. A more comprehensive assessment will be submitted tomorrow after which the City will decide on a process and timeframe for demolition.

A range of preliminary scenarios for the redevelopment of the entire Athlone power station site were submitted to Council's Utilities Portfolio Committee in October 2009. These options will be opened for public comment before the City decides on the final redevelopment of the site. Various options have been offered including educational, commercial and residential facilities on site.

By demolishing the towers, an additional eight hectares of land would be made available for the redevelopment.

Media Enquiries: 

Alderman Clive Justus
Mayoral Committee Member
Utility Services
City of Cape Town
Cell: 083 628 4136