[ Max Brunke | WOUB ]

Lawrence County receives $3.2 million for biomass plant removal

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SOUTH POINT, Ohio (WOUB) — An eighty-two year old facility in Lawrence County, originally built as a military ordnance for World War II, will finally come down after Lawrence received $3.2 million to work on the property.

“The 3.2 million dollars will help us start cleaning up this property and help make our mega site cleaner,” said Jeremy Clay, associate executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. “We will attract more and new businesses to our community, but realistically it’s going to get rid of this blight that’s been in our community since 1996.”

The outside of the old ordnance facility is run down from the weather and years of conditions. [ Max Brunke | WOUB ]
Massive furnaces, spanning from the bottom floor all the way to the fourth floor, are covered in a coat of asbestos, a dangerous mineral to inject or breathe in. [ Max Brunke | WOUB ]
The control room from when the building was owned by Allied Chemical in the 70's-80's. [ Max Brunke | WOUB ]
The pools of water when they would cool machinery from the heat in the facility throughout its history. [ Max Brunke | WOUB ]
The outside of the massive facility with an open concept to keep the air flow throughout the building in the 50's. [ Max Brunke | WOUB ]

The building has been owned by many different parties: Allied Chemical from 1946-1979, Ashland Ink from 1979-1983, and eventually to a biomass group from 1996-2020, which intended to create a wood power conversion plant at the site but the plans never got underway.

The Lawrence Economic Development Corp. bought the property in 2020 and began plans for redevelopment of the area. The 50-acre facility sits directly in the middle of a 500-acre site called The Point.

“The facility is full of asbestos, and this grant that’s been awarded to us through the Ohio Department of Development is really going to change our community by getting rid of this eyesore and it’s going to hopefully help us transition this facility in the long-term,” Clay said.

Asbestos is a natural mineral that is dangerous to inhale. It has been found to be the cause of cancerous cells inside of individuals who worked around the heat-resistant material. Cleanup for the mineral inside the facility, which coats the massive furnaces spanning four floors vertically, is a meticulous process: keeping those in contact with it safe, carefully loading specified trucks, and taking it to a special landfill that can hold asbestos.

Redevelopment of the land is proposed to aid job creation in the South Point and Ironton region.

“The Point, started in 2004, now consists of 21 businesses and over 800 jobs,” Clay said. “And once we get this facility cleaned up and the property in a better position, we look for this additional 50 acres to create more jobs — a minimum of 200 additional jobs to our community.”