Company facing charges over dust cloud from demolition at Hamilton’s Specialty Bar

Click to play video: 'Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished' Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished
The Ministry of the Environment is investigating after the demolition of an old steel mill building sent a massive dust cloud into the air in Hamilton's north end – Sep 30, 2019

A demolition company is facing multiple charges in connection with the toppling of a Hamilton building that sent a dust cloud swirling over parts of the city in late 2019.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment confirmed to Global News that Delsan-A.I.M. Environmental Services Inc. is the company facing offences under the provincial Environmental Protection Act.

A spokesperson for the ministry says the three offences are related to discharge of dust, a demolition carrying dust beyond limits of a property, and failure to report the release of a potential contaminant.

The building that came down was a large green structure, estimated to be 37 metres high (120-feet), on the former site of Hamilton Specialty Bar at 319 Sherman Avenue North.

Read more: Demolition of old Hamilton Specialty Bar building results in massive dust cloud

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A video of the demolition on Sept. 30, 2019, filmed by Patrick Ferguson and posted to Smash Salvage’s Instagram, showed clouds of dark black matter billowing out of the tower as it crumbled to the ground.

Test results on matter from the cloud, that floated over Hamilton’s east end minutes after the demolition, were consistent with ordinary minerals and metals found in a simple dirt sample, according to a Hamilton Public Health probe completed months later.

Following a joint testing initiative from the province and the city, associate medical officer of health Dr. Bart Harvey told Global News the particles in question were about 20 to 40 microns in size and ‘too big’ to be deeply inhaled into human lungs.

“These particles are so large that they would get caught up in the mucous lining of the nose and the throat and essentially would be sneezed out or coughed out,” said Harvey

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Harvey also said the amount of dust they believe was spread into the community was “relatively modest.”

Read more: Adverse health affects from Hamilton demolition dust cloud ‘unlikely’: city

The executive director of Environment Hamilton, who urged residents affected by the dust cloud to contact the ministry, says she was not surprised to hear the province was moving forward with charges.

“Certainly our provincial environmental legislation is designed so that if there is an off-site impact caused that that’s a violation,” Lynda Lukasik told Global News.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that there wasn’t an offsite impact caused by this problem.”

The incident sparked talk amongst councillors at City Hall with Hamilton’s planning committee approving a motion to seek policy changes in early 2021.

Read more: Hamilton councillor seeks stricter rules for demolishing industrial buildings

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, who brought the motion forward, said soot from the demolition was deposited on homes, cars, gardens, outdoor furniture and playground equipment throughout the affected communities.

Nann’s motion asks the province for a wide-ranging expansion of demolition requirements including mandatory notification to all neighbours of the date and time, and a list of any contaminants that could enter the air, water and soil, as well as their potential health impacts.

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Lukasik hopes any fine that might be collected through the court process will be spent by the city to make improvements in neighborhoods that were directly impacted by demolition.

“Whether it’s planting trees or doing something to help to green up the neighborhood or improve it in some way to us just seems like the appropriate thing to do,” said Lukasik.

The Ministry of the Environment revealed the matter will be addressed by a court on March 24.

Global News has reached out to Delsan-AIM for comment on the charges.

The company has yet to respond as of Friday afternoon.

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