Video: Dynamite Downs Eyesore Power Plant, Sends Booms Across South Bay

Explosives were used to take down weakened steel columns within the South Bay Power Plant. Thousands of people across South San Diego Bay came to watch the structure fall. Even more people felt or heard the implosion.

CHULA VISTA, CA -- After 50 years in operation and 55 years on San Diego Bay, the South Bay Power Plant came down Saturday morning in an implosion that took less than two minutes.

With noises like rolling thunder or the beating of a massive drum, the 165-foot-tall building that weighed near 25,000 tons was taken down by hundreds of pounds of dynamite a few minutes after 7 a.m.

Thousands of people in Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, San Diego and Coronado watched the power plant come down.

"You missed a spot!" yelled Danny Leung after the plant fell. Leung works at UTC Aerospace Systems near the Chula Vista Marina and watched the implosion in Chula Vista Bayfront Park. "That was definitely worth waking up for. Now I'm going to go home and go back to sleep."

Vietnam veteran Gary Watkins of Imperial Beach said the implosion reminded him of carpet bombing.

"Just the earth shaking power," he said. "It was a mind-altering experience."

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox addressed a group of people atop a set of portable bleachers shortly before the power plant came down.

"There's a bit of reminiscence because this plant provided power to all of Southern California, but as with all things, times change," she said. "It is important this plant come down. It is the beginning of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan."

An RV park, public park and open space will take the power plant's place as part of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan. The 550-acre plan that received state approval last year will include space for a convention center, hotel, residential, commercial and retail space. Near half the plan is dedicated to conservation, habitat restoration, parks or open space.

Work to tear down the oil burning building started more than a decade ago when the Port of San Diego purchased the power plant from SDG&E in 1998.

The power plant's removal from the bay marks the end of the plant's detrimental impact on the local environment and the beginning of a new era for San Diego's South Bay, said public officials, an environmentalist and business leader said at a press conference Friday.

Work to salvage the tons of wreckage will begin Monday, said Kristine Zortman with the Port of San Diego.

Dynegy South Bay LLC, the plant's former operator, arranged the implosion.

Manny Harris came to the implosion with his grandson Max Snappcook and son-in law Jonathan Snappcook from Carlsbad.

"My son-in-law Jonathan called me up yesterday and asked me if I wanted to go on an adventure but we've got to wake up at 4 a.m.," Harris said. "Max is sitting here on my phone watching videos on implosion.com to give him an idea what this is going to look like."

Harris said he has only seen big implosions on TV and the internet.

Dennis Fuller said he has seen a few implosions and they never get old. He lives in National City but used to live on the Imperial Beach waterfront and is happy to see the eyesore go.

He thinks the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan isn't a bad idea, but it may be overly ambitious.

"Chula Vista has always been overly ambitious in its projects and usually, sadly, people are disappointed with the outcome," he said.

People may oppose the development at some point, but change has to come, Fuller said.

"Sometimes people have to pulled kicking and screaming into the future," he said.

The Port of San Diego estimates that the new waterfront developments may generate $1.3 billion in its first 20 years and will create thousands of jobs.

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Did you feel it? How was the view from Coronado, Imperial Beach or other parts of South Bay? Share in comments.

Thomas Bottroff February 02, 2013 at 06:15 PM
here is some HD footage on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtnSlEXMCfk
Libi Uremovic February 02, 2013 at 11:08 PM
the explosive guys did a good job....it came down very close to perfectly...
Michael Mace February 02, 2013 at 11:56 PM
I completely doubt the report that the beams were weak. being a resident of Chula Vista and knowing the cities plans for building on the waterfront was the real issue. Plenty of money with even plans for a new Chargers sports stadium as part of the plan besides hotels and so forth. Money and what is most common to the politicians involved......should I say more? I remember when the plant was built. I was just a kid, watched at a distance and wondered what it was.....
Marty Barragan February 03, 2013 at 02:04 AM
It was very awesome to be there. See footage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xjNJI4ru6XI
Ed Sorrels February 04, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Since they were cutting steel and concrete beams most likely they used a much higher class of explosives that dynamite, It was most probably Razor shaped charges boosted by Symtec or PE 3or 4 so that the seperations desired were achieved, For most thing's dynamite is no longer the explosive of choice, there to many other higher order explosive choices ! But it was a nice takedown what ever you call the explosive, The ART is not how much yuo use but what you use and where you put it !
Edward Nygma February 06, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Will these various City Council clods never learn? The Chula Vista AND Imperial Beach Councils are like deer in headlights to whatever developers put in front of them! They constantly remind me of that Simpson's episode about the monorail. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw Growth is not always a good thing! Example: Cancer. Monorail.
Edward Nygma February 06, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Other examples: Convention Center, Stadium, Landmark Signs...
Things I Learned February 06, 2013 at 09:56 AM
WTC 7...


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