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Media / Application stories / Atlas Copco breakers go beneath the surface to demolish dams on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio

Atlas Copco breakers go beneath the surface to demolish dams on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio


The final stages of returning the once-polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio to its pre-industrial splendor included the removal of the Sheraton Mill Dam and the LeFever Dam that once provided hydroelectric power for thriving local industries.

HB 3100
RiverReach Construction, specialists in environmental stream and wetland restoration projects, peformed the demolition task quickly and efficiently using Atlas Copco hydraulic breakers equipped with underwater kits.

The first was the 12 meter (40ft.) long, 3 meter (10ft.) high Sheraton Mill dam. It had to be approached from upstream and RiverReach’s solution was to set a mini-excavator, with the SB 552 breaker attached, on a modular barge and float it into place just behind the dam.

‘Almost too easy!’

SB 552, XAS 185
Operator Shannon Swaino began by using the SB 552 to open up “windows” and let the water flow downstream. The water level behind the dam then gradually sank. Next, Swaino entered the river with a 36-ton excavator and the powerful HB 3100. The dam came down in a day. “It was almost too easy with that big breaker,” said Swaino.

Next to be tackled was LeFever Dam – 27.4 meters (90ft.) across and nearly 4 meters (13ft.) high, with a significantly larger volume of water behind it. RiverReach was able to construct an access to the river at the start and Swaino could approach it from the downstream side, so no barge was needed and the job was completed quickly.

Long-hidden white-water rapids reappear
The removal of the dams exposed the Cuyahoga River’s white-water rapids and waterfalls, which have been hidden from the local residents for a hundred years.

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Atlas Copco is a world-leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions. The Group serves customers with innovative compressors, vacuum solutions and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. Atlas Copco develops products and service focused on productivity, energy efficiency, safety and ergonomics. The company was founded in 1873, is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 180 countries. In 2013, Atlas Copco had revenues of BSEK 84 (BEUR 9.7) and more than 40 000 employees.

Atlas Copco Construction Tools is a division within Atlas Copco´s Construction Technique business area. It develops, manufactures and markets hydraulic, pneumatic, and petrol-driven equipment for demolition, recycling, compaction, rock drilling and concrete applications. Products are marketed and sold under several brands through a worldwide sales and service organisation. The division is headquartered in Essen, Germany, and has production units in Europe, Africa and Asia.