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    Hydro plant owners draining riverbed near collapsed building Owner Patriot Hydro say only after the area is dry can the structure be evaluated

    September 26, 2023 - Jim Kinney


      Patriot Hydro, owner of the Red Bridge hydroelectric plant that suffered a building collapse Aug. 22, moved heavy equipment to the site and built a temporary cofferdam in the Chicopee River just downstream of the structure.

      Dewatering, or pumping water from the river bed behind the temporary cofferdam, is now taking place, Patriot Hydro said in a statement.

      Once it’s dry, the company can remove more debris.

      “Once the remaining debris is cleared, additional evaluations will commence to learn more about the state of the structure and possible next steps,” the statement said.

      Debris that could be safely accessed was removed within 48 hours.

      There is no demolition permit on file with the town, said Wilbraham building inspector John Walsh, who is monitoring the site.

      Trails in the adjacent Red Bridge State Park are closed. The Department of Conservation and Recreation closed all park areas and facilities including the parking area and canoe launch at Red Bridge Pond State Park in Ludlow following the collapse.

      Red Bridge Landing — an angler’s access point above the dam — is open with two cartop and five trailer spaces available, but no on-street parking is allowed.

      The 4.5 megawatt power generation plant was offline at the time of the Aug. 22 collapse. No one was injured and Wilbraham firefighters were able to extinguish a small fire and contain a small amount of spilled oil.

      Ludlow Manufacturing Associates built the dam and hydro turbines in 1901 after running out of available hydropower at its mill site in Ludlow Center. When it was under construction, the Italian stonemasons brought in to build it lived nearby in a temporary village.

      The company made jute yarns, twine and webbing in a complex of mills that are now the Ludlow Mills redevelopment project at 100 State St. The location is on the National Register of Historic Places as a part of the Ludlow Village Historic District.


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