Part of old General Chemical site goes up for sale

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Windsor Star/Mary Caton

At least a portion of the old General Chemical property in Amherstburg is ready to re-enter the world as a potential work site and contributor to the town’s tax base.

For Sale signs by Colliers International Canada popped up on both sides of the pavement at 395 Front Rd. N., a couple of weeks ago.

Approximately 100 acres of land and a Detroit River docking facility are part of the package being offered without a public asking price.

“There are very limited properties of this type out there on the market,” said Dan Kirschner, who is overseeing the sale for Honeywell, the U.S.-based parent company of Amherstburg Land Holdings Inc. “The assets are substantial, they have material value and it will be of great use to someone.”

He said they decided to list without an asking price to gauge interest.

The parcel for sale includes a water pump house, a water purification building, an electrical sub-station, a storage building, a multi-modal rail warehouse, an Essex Rail spur, a dock with access to both a shallow and deep cut channel in the Detroit River as well as tunnel access to the dock.

General Chemical closed the plant which produced calcium chloride in 2005 when the company’s Canadian subsidiary declared bankruptcy, pushing 400 workers out the door.

Remediation efforts to clean up the contaminated site started in 2012 after Amherstburg Land Holdings bought the 200-plus acres as part of a bankruptcy auction.

In a deal struck between New Jersey-based General Chemical and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, ALH was able to tap into a $20-million trust funded by General Chemical to pay for remediation.

“The provincial dollars have been spent,” said Rich Galloway, the project’s remediation manager.

He said, to date, ALH has spent an additional $2.5 million with another two years of work still remaining.

There is a large soda ash settling basin that needs to be capped and covered with vegetation.

The western section that’s for sale still awaits final approval from the Ministry of Environment. Galloway said a risk assessment will be submitted to the government this fall.

“It’s a good sign,” Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said. “It’s truly an unique property.”

Galloway updated town council of the site’s progress this week.

As for the idle Honeywell operation next door, a company spokesman said there are no plans to restart production of hydrofluoric acid there.

Honeywell suspended Amherstburg operations in 2013 and laid off 75 workers citing low demand for hydrofluoric acid. At the time, they anticipated a two-year shutdown.

“The plant operations remain suspended and we do not have current plans to restart operations. We continue to monitor and evaluate the marketplace for the plant’s only product,” communications director Peter Dalpe said in an email.