Safety perimeter will keep spectators back
Ontario Power Generation representative Jennifer Grossi helped explain the demolition process ahead for the former Nanticoke Generating Station in Haldimand. This chart outlines the mandatory safety zone that will be enforced when the giant stacks at NGS are dynamited Feb. 28. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
Video crews from far and wide will be in the hamlet of Nanticoke this winter for a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
Shutterbugs will jockey for position 7:30 a.m., Feb. 28 as a demolition crew dynamites the giant stacks at the Nanticoke Generating Station.
Each stack is 650 feet tall, 60 feet in diameter and encases four flues. The plan is to have the two stacks tumble toward each other as they fall to the ground.
Details of the demolition were shared Thursday during an open house at the Nanticoke Community Hall.
Representatives of Ontario Power Generation and the demolition company Delsan-Aim Environmental Services were on hand to answer questions. The demolition got underway earlier this year with the dismantling of the NGS coal yard.
OPG knows there will be intense interest in the stack demolition. The utility has drawn up an exclusion zone that will keep spectators on land at least 500 metres away. The exclusion zone on the waterfront will extend one kilometre into Lake Erie.
“The stacks have been part of the community for more than 40 years,” OPG spokesperson Jennifer Grossi said. “People want to know what’s next. This is an opportunity for them to ask questions.”
In its day, the 4,000-megawatt Nanticoke Generating Station was the largest coal-fired station in the world. The McGuinty Liberals shut it down four years ago due to concerns over environmental impacts. Plans are to clear the site and install a 44-megawatt solar farm.
A lot of work lies ahead. The coal yard demolition got underway this spring. Lafarge has accepted 40,000 tonnes of unburned coal and more than 100,000 tonnes of fly ash for the manufacture of cement.
There are also tonnes of asbestos to get rid of. Removing asbestos to a licensed landfill will take about 18 months. This operation gets underway next spring.
In preparation, Delsan-Aim will have protection in place for the giant water filtration plant next door to NGS. This plant provides tap water to Townsend, Jarvis, Hagersville, parts of the New Credit Reserve, and industries in the Nanticoke Industrial Park.
Joe Mateus, OPG’s environment manager, said Thursday that Haldimand County will not issue a demolition permit unless it is satisfied the water plant is protected.
The powerhouse removal and final cleanup get underway in 2019. Delsan-Aim plans to complete the job by the fall of 2020.
In all, OPG has set aside $60 million for the demolition.
“The vast majority of these costs will be recovered by the sale of assets (which include) scrap metal and excess equipment,” OPG spokesperson Neal Kelly said.
Fisherville farmer Leroy Bartlett, a councillor in Haldimand representing Jarvis-area Ward 1, says the plant’s demise represents the end of an era. At its peak, NGS employed 1,100 operations, construction and maintenance workers and paid $4 million a year in municipal taxes.
“I used to wake up in the morning and check the stacks to see which direction the wind was blowing,” Bartlett said. “Now I get up and look at the wind turbines. Times are changing. We all miss that yellow streak in the sky.”
Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett lobbied the McGuinty government to invest in clean-coal technology when the Ontario Liberals opened a file on NGS’s future.
When that didn’t work Barrett and local officials campaigned to have the plant converted to natural gas. Biomass was also considered before the decision was made to eliminate the facility.
This week, Barrett said NGS was a multi-million dollar asset that still had a contribution to make. On a sunny day, the solar farm that will replace it will produce 1 per cent of NGS’s capacity.
“Nanticoke at one time provided 25 per cent of Ontario’s power,” Barrett said. “After it closed down, our hydro bills tripled. I get the symbolism of building a small solar installation on a former coal pile. But there is also the principle here of salting the earth. It’s sad – very sad.”