Keelung boulder removal gets crackin'
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Large portions of a 2,000-ton rock perched precariously on a slope in Keelung were broken off and removed yesterday, as city workers started to clear away the rock, which poses a serious threat to motorists and residents at the foot of the hill.
September 7, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
City officials said they expected to have removed a quarter of the rock by the end of the day.
An excavator moved in to the top of the slope at around 9 a.m. to start breaking up the rock, which measured about 800 cubic meters, after police had evacuated the residents from their houses at the foot of the hill.
Rows of buffers were also lined up to prevent pieces of the rock from rolling downhill and hitting the houses or reaching Bisha Fishing Port, which lies just across Beining Road from the hill.
As the rock was not as hard as expected, work progressed quickly, city officials said, adding that the area is expected to be cleared of the danger and reopened to traffic by Sept. 15.
A two-story high rock rolled down the hill in a landslide on Aug. 31 after hours of torrential rain, coming within inches of landing on a car traveling down Beining Road. The front of the vehicle was badly damaged, but the driver was unharmed.
The road was sealed off, but later it was discovered that another even bigger rock was still sitting at the top of the hill.
The city ruled out using explosives to remove the rock, fearing it would further undermine the slope and cause more landslides.
After deciding that an excavator should be used instead, the city dispatched workers to clear bushes to make way for a path leading to the otherwise inaccessible rock.
It had been decided that expanding agents would be used to facilitate the work, but now they may not be needed, judging from the softness of the rock, the officials said.
A total of 180 doses of expanding agent had been prepared, and would have been inserted into two-meter deep holes drilled into the rock. The expanding agents would have built immense pressure within the rock in one to two hours, eventually cracking it to pieces, the officials said.