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Demolition continues on Thunder Bay generating station

Opened in 1963, the Ontario Power Generation plant has been idled since 2018

Deconstruction of the The Thunder Bay generating station formerly operated by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is another step closer to being complete.

On June 23, the plant's number two and three boilers were imploded. It took six seconds for the buildings to come down following the 9 p.m. explosion, which could be heard across the city.

According to Jeremy Later, the site’s manager, the work went off without a hitch.

“Last night went excellent; we couldn’t be happier. It went according to plan. Everyone involved from Rakowski Energetics to Budget Demolition to Englobe, our engineers. It went perfect. We’re super excited for how it went,” Later said.

”The weather conditions were perfect, and obviously everyone’s seen that it rained a little bit so that helped keep some of the dust down, and every day we keep this thing standing it becomes a little bit more of a safety issue, as you can expect, with the explosives inside the building.”

Citing expensive repairs and the ongoing high cost of operation, OPG announced in 2018 it would permanently shut down the station, which was constructed in 1963 as a coal-burning operation and later converted to a biomass facility.

The plant was rendered non-operational after the boiler was found to be significantly corroded, and the cost of repairs was estimated at $5 million.

As a “peaking plant,” the facility was only used during peak times of energy use, when the provincial grid needed additional power to meet demand.

In a 2018 email to Northern Ontario Business, the province said the plant had run a total of just 10 days between 2014 and 2018.

In 2020, efforts were underway to find a new buyer for the facility, and last year, OPG announced it had been sold to the demolition company Budget Demolition of Hamilton.

Later, the site manager, said there is some remaining work to be done to fully clear the property.

Machines will be brought in to break up the equipment, which will be sold for scrap.

“We chop it all up to about two to four feet in length and it all gets recycled,” he said. “So everything you see behind me right now is 100 per cent recycled.”

The company will be leaving the old office space standing while it decides to sell or redevelop the site, Later added.

"Boiler one and turbine one are still up; we use that kind of to block the office building so no damage could happen to that and it's a good windshield for us,” he said.

“But later on, once we get boilers two and three all cleaned up, that will all be done with machines again.”

As it stands, the work is planned to be completed by April 2023 with some parties already interested in purchasing the land.

— With files from TBNewswatch