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Investigation of Construction Failure of Reinforced Concrete Cooling Tower at Willow Island, West Virginia (NBS IR 78-1578)



Hai S. Lew, S. G. Fattal, J R. Shaver, T. A. Reinhold, B. J. Hunt


The collapse of the natural-draft hyperbolic concrete cooling tower unit no. 2 at the Pleasants Power Station at Willow Island, West Virginia has been investigated. This investigation included onsite inspections, laboratory tests of construction assembly components and concrete specimens, and analytical studies. Based on the results of these field, laboratory and analytical investigations, it was concluded that the most probable cause of the collapse was due to the imposition of construction loads on the shell before the concrete of lift 28 had gained adequate strength to support these loads. The analysis of the shell indicates that the collapse initiated at the part of the shell in lift 28 where cathead no. 4 was located. It further showed that calculated stress resultants at several points in that part equaled or exceeded the strength of the shell in compression, bending and shear. The failure of these points in that part of the shell would have propagated to cause the collapse of the entire lift 28.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 78-1578
Report Number
Created November 30, 1979, Updated November 10, 2018