Chem-Dyne, or the Chem-Dyne Corp., was a chemical waste transfer, storage and disposal company which began operations in Hamilton in 1975 and six years later was placed on the national priority list for the federal government's Superfund. Congress created a $1.6 billion Superfund in 1980 to finance the cleanup of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites. A state court in 1980 appointed a receiver to oversee removal of hazardous materials from the property. During the 1980s, state and federal agencies contracted for disposal of the solid and liquid wastes stored there and removal of contaminated soil. EPA in 1982 arranged for 112 companies which had sent their waste to Chem-Dyne to contribute $2.4 million toward the cleanup.
Questions were first raised about Chem-Dyne operations April 24, 1976, when a railroad tank car parked there overheated and began emitting fumes. In September 1976 state agencies charged the firm with dumping toxic wastes which killed more than a million fish in the Great Miami River. The most spectacular event was Aug. 24, 1979, when fire and explosion -- followed by fumes -- rocked the city. A newspaper said "about one hundred 55-gallon drums went up in a series of explosions that followed, shooting flames up to 100 feet in the air." After those incidents and a series of suits and investigations, Chem-Dyne closed in 1980. The Washington Post said Nov. 3, 1982, that Chem-Dyne was "classified by the government as the worst environmental hazard in Ohio and one of the worst in the nation." The cleanup, estimated at $12 million when it started, had exceeded $22 million by the time it was declared complete in December 1989. Chem-Dyne -- and associated companies, including Spray-Dyne and Iron Tree Inc. -- was located on a 10-acre site at 500 Ford Boulevard in a structure built by the Ford Motor Company. The Ford Plant opened in April 1920 to produce Fordson tractors, but six months later converted to producing automobile parts. Ford closed the plant in April 1950 and Feb. 1, 1951, it was acquired by the Bendix Aviation Corp., which operated there until August 1962. In October 1963, it was obtained by Ward Manufacturing Co. which began building camping trailers in the plant in 1964.
Chem-Dyne -- chartered by the state in August 1974 -- began using the facility in about March 1975.