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Tests on dust cloud from demolition in east Hamilton now in city’s hands: province

A building on the former Hamilton Specialty Bar site was demolished on Sept. 30 and sent a massive dark dust cloud into the air, spreading throughout north Hamilton neighbourhood.
A building on the former Hamilton Specialty Bar site was demolished on Sept. 30 and sent a massive dark dust cloud into the air, spreading throughout north Hamilton neighbourhood. Smash Salvage on Instagram (filmed by Patrick Ferguson)

The Ministry of the Environment has confirmed to Global News that testing has been completed on a massive dust cloud that floated over Hamilton’s east end in September, minutes after the demolition of an old steel mill.

Spokesperson Gary Wheeler says the ministry received the finalized results on Wednesday morning and forwarded them to Hamilton’s public health unit to complete a hazard assessment.

“The quality assurance process has now been completed and the legal certificates of analysis were issued yesterday [Wednesday],” said Wheeler.
Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished
Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished

The ministry says samples submittted were tested for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — which are a risk from combustion — dioxins and furans, metals, as well as microscopy analysis for contaminants such as black particulate matter.

“Considering the community’s concerns and the potential health impacts, the ministry’s laboratory completed the analysis with high priority as soon as possible,” Wheeler said.

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Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, confirmed to Global News the receipt of the test results from the ministry but gave no timeline on when results would be shared.

“Our staff and toxicologist are working with those from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to complete our assessment and we will be sharing the results once final,” Richardson said.

Moments after the demolition on Sept. 30, videos and photos began to pop up showing dust permeating the air in the Sherman Avenue area between Barton and Burlington streets.

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The dust cloud could also be seen in other parts of the city.

The building that had come down was a large green structure on the former site of Hamilton Specialty Bar at 319 Sherman Ave. North.

A video of the demolition, filmed by Patrick Ferguson and posted to Smash Salvage’s Instagram, shows clouds of dark black matter billowing out of the building as it crumbles to the ground.

READ MORE: Last ditch effort to save Hamilton Specialty Bar falls through

On Twitter, local non-profit organization Environment Hamilton called the footage of the building’s destruction and resulting dust cloud “problematic,” urging residents to contact the Ministry of the Environment.

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A City of Hamilton spokesperson told Global News that on May 6, four demolition permits were issued to the owner of the former Specialty Bar site, which is a numbered company registered as 10618675 Canada Inc.

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The spokesperson also said it’s the responsibility of the company’s consulting engineer to oversee the demolition process and ensure the demolition takes place in a safe manner.

The federal government’s website lists the company as having a Quebec address, with its two directors, Herbert Black and Ronald Black, both residing in Westmount, Quebec.

Hamilton Speciality Bar closed its doors in 2018 after it went into receivership in January and was liquidated a few months later.

— With files from Lisa Polewski