BGE to demolish antiquated gas tank at Cold Spring and JFX

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Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. plans to implode an old natural gas tank that was built in 1932 and retired in 1997.

Say farewell to a nearly 80-year-old landmark at West Cold Spring Lane and the Jones Falls Expressway.

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. plans to implode a massive natural gas tank, cordoning off a 1,000-foot area that includes the Northern District police station a few hundred yards away.


The steel-sheathed "Melvale gas holder" stands 258 feet tall, with a circumference of 218 feet. Located on a 26-acre site that BGE purchased in 1932 in an area called Melvale, the gas tank was constructed to meet customer demand for natural gas, adding gas to the area network of pipelines when demand increased and storing it when demand was lower.

The internal roof rose or lowered, depending on the gas volume, according to background information provided by BGE.


The gas holder was used for more than 60 years, but such gas holders were rendered obsolete over the years, as BGE upgraded to a regional gas system that included higher-pressure pipelines and modern storage facilities at other locations. This particular tank was retired from service in 1997.

"It's been sitting there empty," said Aaron Koos, a BGE spokesman. "We're demolishing it. Otherwise, we would have to paint it and maintain it. Just to paint it again would cost millions."

A tentative date has been set, but BGE officials said Baltimore City police have asked that the date be withheld for now, partly so that people won't descend on the area to watch the demolition.

Also, the date could change with the weather, Koos said. TV stations and other media outlets will be notified a few days in advance, he said.

"We think the best place to see it is on TV," he said. "It's a public safety issue."

BGE is also coordinating with state officials because the site is close to the Cold Spring light rail station and the JFX, Koos said. The date is expected to be a Sunday morning, since the light rail doesn't run then, he said.

Traffic on Cold Spring and the JFX will be closed in both directions during the demolition, Koos said.

"It will only take a matter of minutes," he said. "The preparation has been going on for more than a month," as crews disassemble the tank inside.


Once demolition is complete, the pieces will be hauled away over the next few months, he said.

The implosion and removal of materials will be carried out by a BGE contractor, Potts & Callahan, which is based in the Wyman Park-Remington area.

Implosion is the safest and most efficient method of demolition, BGE officials say. They say other means could compromise the tank's structural integrity and cause it to collapse.

Such implosion operations are relatively rare; three or four old tanks were demolished in the 1980s and 1990s, Koos said.

The tank isn't just old, it's in the way. In addition to being near the police station, light rail and JFX, BGE recently granted an easement through the property for Baltimore City's Jones Falls hiker/biker trail. The site is also now bordered by wholesale commercial and industrial buildings, Koos said..