In just three months the towering OPG power plant which has dominated the St. Clair skyline for more than 50 years will cease to exist.
The former coal plant will be reduced to a heap of scrap metal following dynamite demolition of the four boilers, three stacks and two SCR units comprising the structure.
Destruction is scheduled for sometime in the first two weeks of February. Demolition company DELSAN-AIM says this period was chosen to avoid the migratory bird and fish spawning seasons.
There’s not an exact date since the company will need to wait for the right wind conditions. To avoid dust from the blasts blowing over the St. Clair River they’re waiting until there’s 20 km of wind blowing southeast so it spreads over land.
Not everyone on council was thrilled with this prospect, especially Councillor Bill Myers who was worried the dust could damage private properties.
Karim Ahmad El-Khatib, general manager of operations for DELSAN-AIM, says the “dust cloud will be nuisance dust as opposed to hazardous dust.”
El-Khatib says the company has taken safety steps to reduce dust toxicity such as removing asbestos and cleaning all the structures and he doesn’t expect any property damage. He agreed with Councillor Tracy Kingston though on sending a letter to all residents within one kilometre of the blast explaining what’s going to take place.
OPG Manager Ralph Curitti says the company will perform any power washing or cleanup if a property gets too dusty.
Mayor Steve Arnold, a long-time opponent of explosive demolition, reiterated his opposition to the plan. “I’ve never been in favour of the blast and I will never be in favour of the blast.”
“I think there’s other ways this could have been done, albeit more expensive, but I think it could have been done a lot better than just a large blast,” says the mayor.
Arnold cautioned El-Khatib the company should expect a frosty public reception at an open house for the project Dec. 2 at the Courtright Fire Hall.
“We’re very gentle here on this council but you won’t have gentle people there on the second,” says Arnold. “I’ll guarantee that it will not be a nice night for you.”
The mayor is also concerned about potential impacts from blast vibration. “You’re in an area that’s very vulnerable. Whatever you do there as far as vibration, we may say that it’s only a little bit, but you still have some major infrastructure works there that could be affected.”
DELSAN-AIM presented several other safety strategies they’re employing prior to demolition including creating barriers to contain dust and debris at the blast site and creating a 500 metre exclusion zone for public safety.
One property is slighty inside the exclusion zone on the southern end of the parkway. El-Khatib says his company will be meeting with the owner to discuss plans for demolition day.
Police will be blocking off car and foot traffic along the St. Clair Parkway in both directions and Oil Heritage Road to the east around blast time. DELSAN-AIM also has a private security firm which will be performing guard work closer to the site.
Cleanup following deomolition will run until the end of 2022 to return the property to a clean brownfield site.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent