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Coleman & Co to be replaced as contractor for recovery of missing men at Didcot Power Station

Coleman & Co’s managing director has expressed his disappointment after the company was replaced in the ongoing recovery operation at Didcot Power Station.

Construction News has learned Dartford-based demolition contractor Brown and Mason will replace Coleman to continue recovery attempts at Didcot and will be on site within a month.

Coleman & Co managing director Mark Coleman tweeted that he was “so disappointed… a decision which prevents us recovering our men, Chris, John and Kenny”.

The decision to remove Coleman & Co and replace them with Brown and Mason in the next few weeks comes as authorities continue efforts to recover the missing men, Christopher Huxtable, 34, from Swansea, Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, both from Rotherham.

The men have been missing since part of the boiler house collapsed on 23 February, more than two months ago.

Michael Collings, 53, from Cleveland, was found dead following the collapse. 

Coleman & Co has remained on site, assisting with the ongoing investigation being carried out by the police and Health and Safety Executive.

It was announced this week that the remaining part of the boiler house at Didcot A Power Station would be demolished using explosives to aid the recovery operation.

It has not yet been confirmed whether the demolition will be carried out by Brown and Mason.

The decision to use explosives to demolish the remaining part of the structure has been criticised by relatives of the deceased.

Steve Hall, the son-in-law of Ken Cresswell, told BBC Oxford: “We want the men back in one piece, not many pieces.”

He added: “We are totally against it and we will fight and do whatever we have to to stop that blast.

“It could fall on the pile that’s there which means the men will be buried under more material and metal.

“I don’t know how they’ve come to the conclusion that the only way is to blast it.”

Site owner RWE said; ”Having explored other manual options, our experts have made it clear that the quickest and safest way to bring the building down is by controlled explosive demolition.”

Coleman & Co has not been replaced as principal contractor for the wider site, but will shortly hand over work on the rescue attempt and demolition of the remaining part of the boiler house to another contractor.

It said: ”We will remain on site as principal contractor, for the wider site, and over the coming weeks we will play an active role in supporting the recovery by working collaboratively with a team of industry experts, assisting in any way we can. Once the recovery is complete we hope to resume our works to complete the contract.”

RWE confirmed to Construction News it had appointed Brown and Mason to assist in the recovery operation.

Coleman & Co statement

We have now reached a stage where we will be handing over the remaining recovery operation to another contractor within the next few weeks. This is of course hugely disappointing as we all wanted to recover our friends and colleagues and return them to their families. 

We wish to make it clear that this decision in no way diminishes the excellent work that everyone involved in supporting the recovery has done. The praise we have received from RWE, the police and HSE for how we have conducted the recovery since it began, in these tragic and difficult circumstances, reflects the dedication and commitment we have to each other and the business. 

It has been explained to us that this decision has been made for reasons of safeguarding employee welfare and the preservation of critical evidence.

We understand these reasons and our immediate focus is to ensure that we continue with the recovery operation for as long as we are permitted and at the same time, work collaboratively to facilitate a seamless transition so that the recovery operation going forward proceeds without delay. 

While the sequence of future recovery operations is not our decision, all stakeholders are agreed that the safety of those involved in the process going forward is of paramount importance.   

We will remain on site as principal contractor for the wider site, and over the coming weeks we will play an active role in supporting the recovery by working collaboratively with a team of industry experts, assisting in any way we can. Once the recovery is complete we hope to resume our works to complete the contract. 

Our overwhelming priority remains the welfare of the families, and we are committed to doing whatever we can to support them during this extremely difficult time.

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