updated 5/22/2006 12:25:10 AM ET 2006-05-22T04:25:10

Demolition crews on Sunday destroyed the 499-foot cooling tower at a defunct commercial nuclear power plant.

With a rumble, the tower leaned to the side and collapsed upon itself — leaving a cloud of dust and multi-ton pile of rubble. It took less than 10 seconds and roughly 2,800 pounds of explosives to complete.

Portland General Electric ordered the implosion at Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, about 40 miles north of Portland, as part of its decommissioning.

Trojan closed in 1993 for financial and safety reasons, and the facility has been decommissioned in stages since then. It was Oregon’s first and only nuclear power plant.

The tower is the largest in the nation to be destroyed, according to Controlled Demolition Inc., the Maryland contractor handling the implosion.

“It looks this morning like things went perfectly,” said Mark Loizeaux, company president.

Over the years, Trojan faced a number of opponents concerned about the safety of nuclear power. Activists brought numerous initiatives to voters and petitions to regulators to shut the plant down. Many activists celebrated the demolition throughout the weekend, including throwing a party with cooling tower-shaped piñatas.

PGE estimates the plant will not be fully decommissioned until 2024. Remaining buildings will be destroyed gradually through 2008. The spent radioactive fuel rods, which sit above ground, must be moved to a federal repository that hasn’t been developed yet.

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