It took just seconds—a handful of crackling explosions, like far-off rifle fire, and the fractionator and a pair of stacks crashed to the ground, leveling some of the last major pieces of Sunoco’s Eagle Point refinery in West Deptford.
The fractionator—easily identifiable as the rusting blue hulk towering at the center of the refinery complex—dates back to 1949, Sunoco officials said, and has been offline nearly five years.
Its removal is one of the final steps in a process that started about two years ago, and will eventually result in Sunoco turning the property into a logistics hub.
A handful of spectators watched from Crown Point Road, huddled in pickups parked at the side of the highway in 24-degree, windy weather.
“Was that it?” one man said, while recording video of the aftermath on his iPhone.
The demolitions experts brought in to drop the units came in with vast experience, including work bringing down the Kingdome in Seattle, Sunoco Logistics spokesman Jeff Shields said.
“This is like kicking over dominoes to them,” he said.
Neighbors in the Red Bank and Verga sections of West Deptford, as well as National Park, had raised concerns over asbestos and other materials being spread as part of the demolition, but township and Sunoco officials said there was little danger, and the asbestos remediation had been overseen by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Winds Saturday morning carried the dust and debris from the explosion north and west, toward the Delaware River and the Philadelphia dockyards.