Detroit incinerator demolition in sight after years of fraught operations

The Detroit Incinerator was run by Detroit Thermal. It will have power turned off at the site this week.

For the neighbors living in the shadow of the Detroit incinerator, it's a day that couldn't come soon enough.

The long-despised facility is to be demolished, the mayor said, following more than 30 years of fraught operations and 750 violations of pollution emission standards in the final five years of running.

"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," Mayor Mike Duggan said. 

Nuzzled between the meeting points of I-75 and I-94, the incinerator's operator Detroit Thermal shutdown the plant in 2019 after Duggan's administration began pressuring the company to make major upgrades to the facility. 

"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," he said.

Yet, the relic of environmental pollution and poor neighborhood health remains. 

"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.

Once power is shut off to the plant this week and permits are obtained the next week, work will begin.

Initial work includes removing metal and other marketable materials 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.

"After we demolish it, we're gonna get $1.3 million back," Duggan said.