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Holly Power Plant Deconstruction To Begin Saturday

Four years after it shut down, deconstruction is set to begin on the Holly Street Power Plant in East Austin. A “first-bolt removal ceremony” is planned for Saturday at 10 a.m. and will include city officials and neighbors.

Environmental justice groups such as People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER) fought for years to have the plant decommissioned, complaining of increased cancer rates in the surrounding residential neighborhood and a loss of hearing caused by the constant noise from the plant.

A federal study in 1999 dismissed the cancer claims but did find that noise levels were higher than what would be “normally deemed acceptable” by the United States Housing and Urban Development Authority.

A $16 million program intended to provide financial restitution to people who lived near the plant was found to have flaws in this Austin American-Statesman investigation. Nevertheless, the final funds from the program were due to be allocated yesterday.  

Over the past year, the process of choosing a company to disassemble the plant and sell off the parts was bogged down by allegations of bid fixing and poor city oversight.  The contract ultimately went to TRC Environmental Corporation after it cut its initial bid from $25 million to $11.5 million.

Here’s the city’s press release about tomorrow’s event:

Holly Street Power Plant “First-Bolt Removal Ceremony” The 7-member Holly Neighborhood Decommissioning Committee, Holly neighborhood residents and City of Austin officials will hold a recognition ceremony to remove the “first bolt” to signal the start of work to remove the 52-year old Holly Street Power Plant. First Bolt Removal Ceremony Holly Street Power Plant Saturday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Council Members and Austin Energy General Manger Larry Weis will join in the recognition ceremony which will recognize Holly neighborhood community leaders who helped make the plant closure and removal a reality. The Holly Plant generators were officially shut down at midnight, September 30, 2007. Since then Austin Energy has been working with the Holly Neighborhood Decommissioning Committee in monthly meetings to plan the removal. The decommissioning project is projected to be an 18-month project. Once the plant has been removed, some 9.2 acres of the site along the lake will be developed into a community park.

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Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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