The Regional District of Nanaimo board is set to vote on replacing a landfill compactor vehicle, which suffered damage in a September 2017 fire. (News Bulletin file photo)

Trash tractor fire has RDN considering options

September 2017 fire at Cedar landfill damaged current trash compactor

Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is scheduled to decide on replacement of a compactor vehicle after it suffered extensive damage from a September 2017 fire at the Cedar landfill.

According to a report to the regional district solid waste management committee, the tractor-like vehicle, which breaks up and compacts garbage, caught fire on Sept. 22 after the driver noticed a malfunction of its hydraulic system. He was able to exit the vehicle before it went up in flames and was not injured. An investigation by the insurance company is ongoing and the cause is not yet known.

The vehicle is a writeoff, said Larry Gardner, RDN solid waste services manager. A brand-new vehicle would cost in the range of $1 million and it is not an option in the short term.

The insurer has offered the regional district a cash payment of about $441,752, or up to $620,467 to replace the vehicle. The report states that the cash payout will not be enough to buy a compactor that will meet the needs of the regional district and would limit its options to an older model with shorter operational life and higher maintenance costs.

The report recommends the option for $620,467 and Gardner said it can guard against another fire incident through training, awareness, maintenance and cleaning of the vehicle, which he said the regional district currently does.

“In the environment that compactors operate (combustible material, fuel, heat), it is not unique for a compactor, or other landfill compaction equipment, to catch on fire. Still, the points I mention go a long way in minimizing the risk,” Gardner said in an e-mail.

There would be a $5,000 deductible should the board decide on the $620,467 option.

The board originally voted in favour of purchasing a refurbished compactor from Marcel’s Equipment for $560,000 in 2016.

Regional district directors will consider the matter at a meeting on Feb. 27.

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