Foundry site cleanup resumes – again

The overgrown and derelict former Holmes Foundry lands, seen from the air in 2017. Drone photo, courtesy of David Cooke, inskyphoto.com

Troy Shantz

About 10,000 tonnes of rubble from two derelict buildings on the former Holmes Foundry site will be ground up and used to help level the 16-acre property, Point Edward’s CAO says.

The long-delay cleanup of the property was back on again this week and the gutted buildings should be down by the end of September, Jim Burns said.

“They’re hoping to have a big part of the work done by the end of December, so they’re going to get going pretty quick,” he said.

“Basically when they’re done… it’s going to be a flat surface that can be maintained going forward.”

After decades of neglect, thwarted development and environmental concerns, officials are optimistic the latest attempt to clean up the property will finally succeed.

Last summer, a Ministry of Labour stop work order abruptly halted the last effort. But with help from an environmental consultant the village’s work plan has been approved by the province, said Mayor Bev Hand.

“We look forward to seeing the property cleaned up and made safe for the community,” she said.

Removing the overgrowth and levelling the two buildings at the northwest corner is expected to take six to eight weeks.

A large section of asphalt once a parking lot will be left in place, Burns said.

Concrete chunks from the former engine assembly plant building were originally to be trucked elsewhere, but the contractor developed a plan to do it onsite, Burns said.

Schouten Excavating, the company that leveled the asbestos-riddled Sarnia General Hospital, will instead use building debris to create a roadway so the contaminated soil isn’t disturbed, Burns said.

There is no threat to residents or motorists near the site, Burns said. But air monitoring will be conducted and workers will wear personal protective equipment, he said.

The end result for the property, which is bordered by Highway 402 and Christina, Exmouth and Front streets, will be level ground that is easily maintained by Point Edward staff, Burns said.

“It’ll be something much more appealing to developers than what is there now, for sure.”

Village council has for decades been hoping the privately owned land could be redeveloped. But legal and environmental problems led to a string of delays and an urban eyesore that continues to greet highway visitors.

In 1989, Chrysler spent $8.5 million cleaning up the site and removed more than 6,000 yards of soil.

The property is listed on the market for $7 million.