General Chemical demolition progressing

By Joel Charron

As over 200 auction goers sifted through old items, the new owners of the former General Chemical plant believe Amherstburg is starting a new chapter in its town.

The plant is now owned by Amherstburg Land Holding Ltd, an operating group under the Honeywell name. While there is still plenty of work to be done Vaughan Hansen, plant manager at the Honeywell site in Amherstburg, said work is progressing at the General Chemical site.

“We’re very excited for a multitude of reasons,” said Hansen. “This is an eyesore in the community and we think it is a great step forward to removing this eyesore from the community,” Hansen said last Saturday.

According to Hansen, the demolition of the site will continue through 2014, however added the tallest building on the site could come down late this year with the smokestacks and the structure to follow early next year. He also added further remediation of the land, if needed, would also be completed by 2014.

Hansen mentioned Honeywell has $20.4 million to spend on the demolition because of an agreement reached with General Chemical’s parent company, however he is unsure if that money would cover the entire cost of the demolition. He noted Honeywell would cover any excess cost, should there be any.

“Honeywell has made the commitment to see this through to completion even if there are not sufficient funds,” said Hansen.

Hansen said they are four months through an 18-month project.

Priestly Demolition out of Toronto is performing the demolition.

There has also been extensive period of study and preparation before the actual demolition began. Amherstburg Land Holdings Ltd. has worked with the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) and the town as part of preparatory efforts.

There was also been extensive testing on the land underneath the site to check for any chemicals that have seeped into the soil. Hansen said nothing abnormal has been found, however if they stumble upon something, there will be a remediation process after the buildings are removed.

Plans for the soda ash settling basins are still being drafted and according to Hansen probably won’t be finalized until some time next year.

Future uses of the site won’t be known until demolition is complete with Hansen noting the focus is currently on removing the former General Chemical plant. Marketing the site to investors likely won’t ramp up until 2014 but Hansen noted any future use would have to be compatible with the existing Honeywell plant.

“All in all, this is a very positive project,” said Hansen. “The town and the MoE are on board and supportive of us. This is a great step forward for Honeywell and the town.”

Mayor Wayne Hurst called the General Chemical plant an eyesore and said once it is gone; its former employees can get some closure as they move forward.

Hurst mentioned the redevelopment of the site is “key for the town” as it will bring new jobs and new tax base to a heavy industrial area.

With a deep-water port and a rail line, Hurst hopes that will entice investors to set up shop in Amherstburg. Hurst also believes the site’s re-birth could be the beginning for growth in Amherstburg, as he pointed out the town needs amenities as a cinema, hotel and new marina.

“When a new tenant comes in, it allows other investors to say ‘it’s time for me to come into this community’,” said Hurst.

Comments are closed.