Officials Investigate Partial Tower Collapse


Inspectors are working to determine what caused the top of a water tower in New Jersey to collapse late last week.

In what the Borough of Brielle described in a statement to area residents as a “catastrophic event,” the steel dome of the Old Bridge water storage tank fell into the main tank Friday (Oct. 28).

As strong winds hindered efforts to immediately inspect the damage, according to News 12 New Jersey, emergency management officials were unable to offer any specific insight into what happened until the following day.

Water quality was not impacted, despite some initial sediment in tap water following the collapse, authorities said, and a boil-water advisory was not issued, but residents were told to expect low pressure until repairs were made.

Two homes in the immediate vicinity were evacuated as a precaution, a local radio station reported.

‘The Weld Held’

By Saturday morning, engineering inspectors were able to access the 131-foot, 150,000-gallon municipal water tower to evaluate the damage, the Asbury Park Press reported.

"We have everything under control," Mayor Thomas B. Nicol stated at the water tower site. "We're going to send climbers up there from the engineer to investigate, and we'll make a decision from there."

However, very little detail on the collapse has been issued at this time. Officials reportedly agree that heavy rains earlier in the week did not play a role.

"We think there was some kind of malfunction that basically sucked the roof into the tank," Nicol said at the time.

According to New Jersey 101.5 FM, Nicol referenced some kind of “vacuum mechanism” that pulled the top in, explaining, “we don’t really know how it happened. The dome didn’t come off. The weld held. It’s just like a can was crushed.” 

The dome was reportedly constructed of quarter-inch-thick steel.

“It had to be a severe vacuum,” Nicol added.

According to Nicol, before Friday’s collapse engineers had believed the structure, built in 1967, was in good condition and predicted an operable lifespan of 20 years or more.

Area Water Supply

The Borough of Brielle also has a second, new 300,000-gallon water tower in place.

The mayor credited redundancies in the water supply system for minimizing the impact on area residents.

“We are part of the Manasquan River Reservoir system and get water from that reservoir as well,” Nicol told the local radio station. “We’ve made the determination that we can run the system indefinitely this way until we repair the top of the tower.”



Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; North America; Quality Control; Steel; Tank exteriors; Tank interiors; Tank roof; Tanks; Tanks and vessels; Tower; Water Tanks

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