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Report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved

WATCH ABOVE: The composter in northeast Edmonton was shut down last fall over safety concerns. The facility will only be running in the spring and summer as heat and moisture is rotting away the roof. Vinesh Pratap reports.

After vacating the Aeration Hall Building at Edmonton’s composting facility, a new report heading to Monday’s city council utilities committee says the building can’t be salvaged.

The building was closed Oct. 26 last year, and after review over the winter, staff decided it couldn’t reopen because of “different reasons, mostly safety and financial considerations,” the report said.

Scroll down to read the ‘Composter Detailed Plan and Plan of Action’ in full. 

The 30-year-old building has seen its roof rot from the heat and chemicals in the composting process.

It was closed over the winter because of the possibility of heavy snow; the roof could collapse, making it unsafe for staff and contractors to be inside.

That leaves very few options for city councillors to consider. Councillor Ben Henderson, who chairs the committee, said they’ll be asking waste management staff if they can get another summer out of it before closing for good.

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READ MORE: Councillors will be told if or when roof of Edmonton composter will collapse

Henderson told reporters he’ll be asking how much demand the city can expect for its composting program.

“Which is why this question of how much capacity for composting is so important to answer before we make a commitment on either rebuilding the building or repairing the building or replacing the building.

“We need to decide what size of building we need.”

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The building dates back to the 1980s and was last inspected in 2015.

No one from city administration was made available to comment on the report that was released Thursday. The report appears to be at least a month old, Henderson said.

“If we can deal with the quantity of compost that we need to be able to handle in a different kind of a way, then we don’t need to replace that big of a building,” he said.

“We have the anaerobic composter that’s already coming on board. So as soon as that anaerobic composter opens, we have a way of dealing with a good chunk of our compost, but not the peaks.”

READ MORE: Edmonton council committee adopts grass clipping ban from curbside pickup

“That’s why things like grass become so important because you wouldn’t want to build another huge composter that you’d only use three weeks a year.”

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Henderson said he’s hearing other composters of that vintage are running into similar problems with their steel beams corroding.

“These are buildings that are coming faster to the end of their lives than I think we anticipated but it’s partly because of the use, it’s partly because of the technology — and it was early technology.

“We were one of the first people to put something like this in and it’s lived out its life. It caught us by surprise but we were one of the first adopters so it may be a sign that there’s more of this coming.”

Aeration Hall Building of the Edmonton Composting Facility by Anonymous TdomnV9OD4 on Scribd