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When a boiler explosion threatened heat production to Ottawa’s downtown core just weeks before winter set in, a national emergency was declared. Working around the clock, an entirely new plant was built in only 37 days.

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1 national emergency declared
37 days to steam production
152 construction and isometric drawings
52 buildings affected
82 WSP employees involved
30 of steel pipe
50000 people without heat
9198 WSP man hours
850 of triple pass welds

Project slideshow

See how the new heating & cooling plant was built in just 37 days

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On Monday, October 19th, 2009, boiler # 6 exploded at the Ottawa Cliff Heating and Cooling plant.

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The explosion took the life of an operator and shut off heating and cooling capacity to 52 buildings in Ottawa's downtown core.

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Widespread asbestos contamination resulting from the explosion imposed restrictions on plant access and made investigation difficult. Initial decisions had to be made quickly with limited information.

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A whopping 87 drawings were produced within the first 9 weeks of the project.

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Day 1: Monday, November 2nd, 2009. The parking lot becomes a construction site.

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Day 5: The slab insulation and reinforcement rebars installation is almost complete for the saturated steam boiler portion of the plant. Because of the tight timelines, there were big changes happening every day.

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Day 7: The saturated steam boilers are installed onto the slab.

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Day 9: Progress is made on the wall foundation.

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Day 11: The overhead piping support frame is installed.

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Day 11: Installation of the overhead piping support frame.

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Day 12: Feed water pumps arrive and piping installation starts.

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Day 17: Connection to existing steam and condensate distribution within the plant staircase proves to be the tightest and most difficult installation spot in the entire project.

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Day 18: Work is done at high elevation.

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Day 19: With weather patterns shifting and growing colder with each passing day, welding and other construction related tasks become increasingly more challenging.

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Day 19: The main steam heater is installed under cover of night.

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Day 22: Electrical cable and piping installation links the new plant with the existing Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant.

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Day 22: An engineer inspecting boiler controls.

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Day 30: The almost completed plant, minus the exterior walls and roof, is seen from above.

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Day 31: Late in the night, boilers #1 and #2 are fired for the first time.

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The new plant sits beside the Supreme Court of Canada.

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The new plant passes final inspection.

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Despite the urgency in which the plant was developed it is still in operation today, 6 years after the explosion.

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