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Nanticoke Generating Station

There's something to be said when you finally crack the gem that you've been watching for years, knowing that it's days are numbered, but not sure when the plug is finally going to be pulled. But the long wait for this gem extends back to one of my first explorations: the R.L. Hearn Generating Station, in it's mothballed state.

Location attributes for Nanticoke Generating Station
Location   Nanticoke, Ontario
Built :: Closed   1972 :: 2015
Status   Closed
Difficulty   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

That first visit to Hearn in 2005, with the generation hall and equipment fully intact and mothballed, was what lit the Urban Exploration flame for me. Prior to that visit, my activities were fully constrained to what I did on the U of T campus.

However, at that time I cared less about photography and neglected to bring a camera, figuring I would come back some other time and take some photos. By the time I returned with a camera in 2008, Hearn had been gutted. The nearby Lakeview Generating Station had been demolished in 2007, and represented a huge missed opportunity in terms of recreating that feeling I had when I first laid eyes on the Hearn turbine hall. But I knew the other coal generating stations were slated for closure, with Nanticoke being the next closest.

So I bid my time, waiting for the closure. I did several scouting trips over the years, but for the most part I watched from afar. And I missed the closure completely, as it didn't generate many headlines in the GTA. It was by random chance that I saw in an article online in September 2015 that the plant had been decommissioned to a mothballed state in late 2013.

So when a friend revealed in early December that Nanticoke had been cracked by two explorers, I jumped at the chance. Intel we had from them mentioned fairly tight security with peace officer abilities, no close points to stash the car, and few hiding spots on the approach to the plant. Nanticoke was not going to reveal her secrets easily.

And it wasn't easy. It took us over an hour to even get close to the plant while moving cautiously, and another hour to breach the plant herself, up dozens of flights of stairs and climbing over the sides of catwalks to avoid flooded areas.

But we made it. And I got to recreate that feeling I had a decade ago in Hearn when I overlooked Nanticoke's turbine hall, saw the control rooms still lit up and ready to function, and saw all the intact equipment; ready for a day that would never come. Nanticoke's future has been decided already; the heat is being turned off in the near future and the plant will be gutted like Hearn. But her beauty in a standby state has been captured; an opportunity that wasn't wasted this time.

With that said, though, one more coal plant remains in a standby state in Ontario. And I'm still watching...

Powerhouse - December 2015 (Extra Restricted Content)
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