Preparations have begun to demolish the remainder of the boiler house at Didcot A Power Station using explosives.
In a letter to local residents and businesses, RWE confirmed that the process will take “up to two weeks” and that it will give 48 hours’ notice of the exact date and approximate timing of the demolition.
ITV News has reported that the demolition could take place as early as Saturday or Sunday this weekend if all goes according to plan.
RWE declined to confirm this, only stating that the demolition could happen “anytime over the next two weeks”.
RWE said in its letter that due to the unsafe nature of the boiler house it has not had “usual access to the building to fully assess conditions or place demolition charges naturally”.
As a result, the new demolition design has been “extremely complicated”.
It said: “Together with our contractors, we have developed a unique demolition method to try and overcome these complexities.
“This method, which has been developed and tested specifically for use at the Didcot site, uses remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) to place demolition charges at precise places at the base of the building’s columns.
“The detailed methodology for this robotic demolition has been completed. It has since been thoroughly reviewed and tested by independent experts and discussed with the families of the missing men.
“After consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, the plan has now been accepted by the Multi-agency Strategic Coordination.”
Alford Technologies was the contractor drafted in to carry out the robotics work and will install the charges.
Brown and Mason, who replaced Coleman and Company as principal contractor on this portion of the Didcot A demolition project following the collapse, will oversee the removal of the material once it is on the ground.
RWE said that once the building has been brought down and an inspection confirms the area is safe, Brown and Mason will “immediately mobilise to resume the recovery operation”.
It said the exclusion zone for the blowdown would be within the boundary fence of the Didcot A site but that some road closures will be in place.
The bodies of three Coleman & Co employees – Ken Cresswell, John Shaw and Chris Huxtable – remain trapped under the collapsed portion of the boiler house.
Another worker, Michael Collings, was found dead shortly after the collapse on 23 February.
A spokeswoman from RWE added: “The time taken to recover the Cresswell, Huxtable and Shaw families’ loved ones has been deeply upsetting, but removing the remaining building means we can now resume the recovery operation.
“Further information on the exact timing will be made public 48 hours before the controlled explosive demolition.”