THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN BELGIUM
‘Den Ammoniak’ was an abandoned factory in Willebroek. Its official name was ‘Ammoniaque Synthétique et Dérivés’ or ‘ASED’. The company produced chemical fertilizer, ammoniac and industrial acids from the gas taken from the nearby cokes ovens.
Until the 19th century Willebroek was a rural community, the population lived mainly from farming. However the industrialization of the city began in 1860 with the establishment of a paper and steam boiler plant by Louis De Naeyer. Due to this rapidly evolving company, Willebroek experienced enormous growth. For example, in 1875 ‘S.A. de Construction et des Ateliers de Willebroeck’ or ‘Den IJzeren’, an iron constructions factory was built. Later ‘Association Métallurgique pour la fabrication du Coke’ locally known as ‘De Cokes’ was inaugurated in 1901. This cokes plant produced not only blast furnace cokes, but also gas as byproduct.
For this reason this ‘Den Ammoniak’ factory was built close to the cokes plant. Nearby the Willebroek canal, that was widened and deepened from 1900 until 1922 in order to meet the evolution of the economy and shipping.
Reconversion and demolition
This old ASED ammoniac factory stopped producing in 1989 and the site was sold to the ‘Imerys’ company. Most of the halls were reconverted and reused by different companies. Two halls were left untouched and were used for some illegal dumping and burnings. Today the site is reconverted and home for many companies. I visited ‘Den Ammoniak’ in 2005. Also check this other Belgian fertilizer factory SAFEA.