After a complicated cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency, a first phase of demolition began Tuesday on the old Swift meatpacking plant — a massive industrial building that is one of the first things visitors see as they enter downtown Ogden.

When Ogden purchased it as part of a redevelopment project, It was filled with more than 97,000 containers of hazardous materials, and the lion’s share were surplus from the Department of Defense, according to Fox 13.

It reported that a shed attached to the building came down Tuesday, as part of an effort to reopen a kayak park in the area. It said officials expect to demolish the rest of the building later this year but are waiting for the Ogden City Council to appropriate the estimated $1.5 million needed.

The Salt Lake Tribune and The Utah Investigative Journalism Project this year published a project looking at how the toxic materials may have landed there, and at the complicated cleanup.

(Briana Scroggins | The Utah Investigative Journalism Project file photo) EPA Contractors Maile Lutui and Jaden Lemons shake paint cans before pouring them into containers near the Swift building in Ogden on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

It noted that the late Bert Smith, founder of the Smith and Edwards store that sold military surplus, was a former owner of the building. Officials said the military once disposed of toxics by including them in lots of other more sought-after surplus, and they speculate that Smith may have obtained the toxics that way and stored them in the building.

“The EPA, they were like kids in a candy store,” Ogden City Administrator Mark Johnson told Fox 13. “There were so many kinds of chemicals, and I think it was a dream come true in their careers to actually be able to dispose of it.”

The cleanup took less than a year. Johnson said it was so speedy in part because the city owned the building.

While the EPA used the Superfund to pay for the cleanup initially, it aggressively works to recover funds from responsible parties — raising questions if Ogden will be held responsible.

“They [EPA] have three to five years to go back and decide who is going to pay for what,” Johnson told Fox 13.

See more at FOX 13.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.