THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN BELGIUM
‘SAFEA’ or ‘Société Anonyme pour la Fabrication d’Engrais Azotés’ was a huge abandoned site in Houdeng-Goegnies, in the Charleroi region. In 1929 began the construction, which lasted two years. It manufactured agricultural fertilizers from the cokes oven gases of the nearby steelworks.
SAFEA was founded by ‘Usines Gustav Boel’ and ‘Union Chimique Belge’. Two companies from the rich industrial families of Boël and Janssens. The factory produced artificial manure from hydrogen transported in pipes from the nearby cokes plant. During the Second World War they even produced nitric acid for the production of explosives.
With the closure of this cokes plant, SAFEA’s activity also stopped. The company closed the gates in 1978, Gustav Boel, later taken over by Duferco, sold the place to the Belgium government for 10 million euros. The buildings were demolished and the heavy polluted ground was cleaned. Today a new industrial zone with new companies can be found on the old site of ‘SAFEA’. The demolition of the old buildings started in 2006, today nothing is left to remind us about the old site. Only some old trees are saved, they are listed as historical monuments! Too bad they couldn’t do the same for the old factory buildings. I visited ‘SAFEA’ several times in 2005.