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Demolition underway at former OPG generating station (10 photos)

The demolition is expected to take place over the next two to three years with the main structures coming down late this year.

THUNDER BAY - The demolition of the Ontario Power Generation’s Thunder Bay Generating Station is well underway, with the main structures including the 650-foot chimney expected to come down later this year.

The 54-acres of property on Mission Island was taken over by the Hamilton-based company, Budget Demolition, following OPG announcing it would be decommissioning the site in 2018.

“We started the demolition of the building outside the main powerhouse,” said Jeremy Later, site manager with Budget Demolition.

“We are doing interior work of some removals before the demolition takes place. We plan on doing some explosive demolition as well. First will be the stack around September if all goes well, and then part of the powerhouse in December and the rest next year.”

The Thunder Bay Generating Station first began operating in 1963 and in 2014 it was shutdown briefly and converted to run on biomass or wood pellets.

Throughout its history, it has seen many additions, including two additional coal-fuel units in the early 1980s and the prominent chimney, which is believed to be the tallest structure in Northwestern Ontario standing at 650 feet or 200 metres.

There are approximately 30 crew members working on the demolition and Later said he expects the work to be completed over the next two or three years.

“Our plan is about two to three years depending on how the demolition goes along and any challenges we come up against. Every project has challenges,” he said. “But two to three years the majority of the facility will come down. We are also keeping some of the other buildings for potential use down the road.”

Later added that OPG has been very helpful in insuring the building was ready for demolition before handing it over by taking our hazardous materials from inside structures.  

“The former owner has done a really good job of decommissions things in the proper way which makes our lives a lot easier,” he said.

Crews have already taken down several smaller structures around the generating station and all the material is sorted for recycling.

“The majority of the building is steel, copper, and aluminum and that can be recycled,” Later said. “We sort everything on site and try to ship it directly to mills. We run at about 95 to 98 per cent recycle rate, so the majority of it will be recycled.”

The city had initially hoped the property and structures could be repurposed. Later said Budget Demolition has received quite a few inquiries about the property and it is working with them, as well as city officials, to determine the best use for the property, but added discussions are still in the early stages.  

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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