Mayor Duggan announces that City will begin demolition of incinerator within next few weeks

Mayor Duggan announces that City will begin demolition of incinerator within next few weeks

  • Facility burned up to 5000 tons of trash per day for 30 years before closing in 2019 after pressure from the city.
  • Demolition expected to begin in early June and be completed by the end of the year.
  • Proceeds from salvaged materials from incinerator to generate $1.3 million in revenue for Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA).

Detroit’s long-despised incinerator – a source of air pollution and health concerns for 30 years in surrounding neighborhoods – soon will be erased from the city’s skyline as the process of demolishing it begins in the next few weeks, Mayor Mike Duggan announced today.

The Detroit Building Authority recently selected Homrich as the company to perform the demolition following a competitive bid process.  As part of Homrich’s proposal, the demolition will generate approximately $1.3 million in revenue for the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA) from the salvaging of metals and other marketable materials, in addition to getting rid of an unsightly health hazard. 

The demolition process is expected to be completed within approximately six months from the time it begins, starting with the demolition of the lower trash processing portion of the complex and culminating dramatically with the implosion of the smokestack later this year.

“The presence of this incinerator has been a real pain point for this community because it was another example of a health hazard being placed in a lower-income community of color,” said Mayor Duggan. “ We worked hard behind the scenes to get the incinerator shut down, and now residents of this neighborhood will finally be able to say goodbye to it forever.”

Since it opened in 1989 at a cost of approximately $500 million until it closed in 2019, the incinerator drew heavy criticism from residents living nearby due to health concerns generated by the odors and emissions coming from the facility. During the last five years of its operation, the incinerator reportedly exceeded pollution emission standards more than 750 times, according to state environmental records. 

"Although the incinerator has not operated over the last three years, the symbol of what has caused so much pain and suffering in the community has remained and I’m sure it has continued to traumatize those impacted the most. Today’s announcement and subsequent demolition of the incinerator means further relief and hopefully a source of healing for impacted residents," said City Council President Mary Sheffield. "It is my sincere hope that the dubious history of the incinerator informs future policy decisions and works to help us prioritize health and wellness and fight environmental injustice in all its forms." 

In 2018, the Duggan administration began pressuring Detroit thermal energy, which operated the incinerator, to make major upgrades to the facility to improve its emissions.  Faced with the additional cost of operating, Detroit thermal agreed in 2019 to cease incinerator operations.

Timeline

With a demolition contract now in place, the city is arranging for DTE to cut power to the complex by the end of this week. Arrangements are being made to maintain power to the adjacent facility that soon will house the new headquarters and shelter for animal care and control expected to open later next year.  

Once the power issue is resolved, Homrich will be able to obtain its demolition permit, which is expected to occur within the following week.  Once it has the permit, Homrich will be able to mobilize and begin work almost immediately.

Initial work will consist of removing metal and other marketing materials from the facility before beginning active demolition on the processing facility portion of the complex.  Demolition of that portion is expected to be completed this fall and implosion of the smokestack, which will complete the demolition, is expected by the end of the year.

The city is currently exploring potential future uses of the incinerator property.