Amherstburg, Ontario (Map)
Amherstburg, Ontario is a small town of 13,000 people - a place which I always thought was a weird location for such a humongous chemical plant.
Around the turn of the century, the quarries around here began supplying Delray's Solvay Process Company with local crushed stone because of its calcium rich composition. This calcium rich stone is mixed with brine to form Soda Ash (according to the Solvay Process). Soda Ash (sodium carbonate (Na2CO3)) is a key chemical in the production of soap, glass, fabrics & paper; as well as being widely used for water softener, adjusting pHs in pools & removing flesh from bone in taxidermy.
In the next 30 years, it would grow to employ 1000 people & also begin calcium chloride (road salt) production. It would produce 300,000 tons of soda ash in 1958 and it would soon after produce hydrofluoric acid (pharmaceutical uses) as well.
This size of this place was astounding. The first building we entered still had packages of soda ash & neatly stacked pallets. You could hear the Honeywell trains dinging beside the building, as they were being moved for some reason.
The next building was one of those interconnected tangle of pipes & tubes, where my simple self had no idea what to make of it.
The offices were exciting in terms of the pristine state in which they were left. In reading the research articles for this post, people could read the writing on the wall, but there wasn't any long-term plan where the workers were told when the plant would close.
The great part about the next building was the chemical labs. I'm a huge fan of chemistry (sorry about the long intro), so I was in heaven in terms of inspecting all of the glassware & literature.
^I actually know what these do!
Next up was the tallest section - which has to be something like 10 stories.
The views from the top were spectacular.
Outside of Windsor, there aren't many structures in Essex County which would provide these kind of county views.
Detroit! 26 kilometres away!
We hit a few more buildings in search of something else.
Although a bunch of road salt wasn't what I was looking for, this building ranks high in terms of sights which I've beheld as a result of this activity (even if my crummy picture doesn't show how strange this building was, in terms of all-white mounds, weird patterned roof & vast emptiness).
As we moved into what I'd consider the main building, it looked like their boiler was running a little cold.
...but this is where I came upon the General Chemical caboose! Boom!
In 2009, the provincial government reached a solution with the parent company of the bankrupt General Chemical to clean up this property at the cost of $20 million. That cost has sky-rocketed to $64 million more recently, and there still didn't seem to be any significant demolition.
That is until I was recently back in Ontario, where I was told that this place is mostly flattened except for a few minor outbuildings.
The gettin' was good while it was still available to be got.
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