Demolition begins on FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant on Cleveland's east side

Posted at 8:51 PM, Nov 15, 2016

It is by size and location the most iconic structure on Cleveland's east side and soon it will be no more, FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant.

Crews are in the process of beginning demolition on the property that pre-dates the very Shoreway that brings thousand of travelers a day past its doors.

They're ripping through the mountains of steel that once fed the coal to create the electricity that fueled the city.

The plant first opened in 1911 to meet the growing city's growing need for electricity, expanding over the next century to occupy much of the 60-acre site off of East 72nd Street.

The plant closed in April 2015, and longtime employee Joe Cerer pushed the red button at the end of his shift that shut it down for good.

"It was emotional that day," Cerer said. "It's sad to see it go."

Cerer was joined by Dan Curtiss, who spent 38 years at the plant, in taking a last walk through the plant as crews began ripping through steel supports and ductwork.

"It's hard," Curtiss said, "to see it finally come to an end, it's difficult."

Project Manager Mark Vindivich said the past eight months have been dealing with environmental remediation, removing hazardous materials, asbestos and fly ash.  

"We spent $10 million in abatement alone in these two buildings behind us and then over on our ash silo we just removed 80 percent of the ash out of it that was remaining for about $350,000," he said. "We want to leave it in a green space condition where it's safe and environmental stewardship is number one for FirstEnergy.

Earlier this year there were efforts aimed at saving possibly the main building and its iconic smokestacks but the century old complex was built without heat so when it shut down, the building began to breakdown.

"If you look around you'll see it deteriorating pretty quickly we have walls that are already coming apart, the ceilings have netting up above for protection," Cerer said.

Crews will eventually open up the walls of the main buildings to remove the generating machinery for scrap before the grand goodbye early next year.

"Probably in the February time frame we'll be explosively demolishing part of the buildings and the stack," Vindivich said of the massive smokestack visible for miles along Cleveland's lakefront.

"We use a demolition contractor and that's there specialty. They'll take the prints, they'll analyze them, they'll do a plan and then they'll place explosives and diamond cut the concrete in the appropriate places and they'll fall the stack within plus or minus three degrees of their intended target."

Once the complex is cleared the top two feet of topsoil will be removed and it will be returned to green space until a future use for the site can be determined.