May 29, 2019 12:15 pm
Updated: May 29, 2019 8:56 pm

Edmonton Composting Facility shutting down immediately due to rotten roof

WATCH ABOVE: City of Edmonton waste services branch manager Michael Labrecque answering questions about the Edmonton Composting Facility being closed immediately.

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The city announced Wednesday that, effective immediately, the Edmonton Composting Facility is ceasing operation and shutting down due to the roof being structurally unsound.

City of Edmonton waste services branch manager Mike Labrecque said the closure was out of an abundance of caution.

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He said each spring staff inspect the building, doing both visual checks and a 3D scan, and this year they determined the building was too far gone to continue to operate in the summer months.

“The safety of all employees and everyone on-site at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre is the number one priority, so, given this conclusion, waste services will begin the process of shutting down and decommissioning the facility,” Labrecque said.

The facility, which opened in 2000 and was considered state-of-the-art at the time, was the largest of its kind in North America by volume and size, according to the city. But the heat and chemicals from the aerobic composting process has caused the roof to rot away.

READ MORE: From poop to perfect compost — inside Edmonton’s world-class waste facility 

Watch below: It was once described as a world-class site but the Edmonton Composting Facility is shutting down because the roof is structurally unsound. Vinesh Pratap reports.

The composter was closed over the winter of 2018 after fears of the roof collapsing under possible heavy snow, making it unsafe for staff and contractors to be inside.

The Edmonton Composting Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.

Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Since then, the composter was operated seasonally, based on safety assessments. A report released last spring said the building can’t be salvaged, due to safety and financial issues.

READ MORE: Report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved

Labrecque said the city had hoped to get a few more summers out of the building, but have been preparing to replace it for about two years now.

WATCH: Edmonton composter shutting down immediately due to rotten roof

In the short-term, organics collected from single family homes will be partially directed to the Anaerobic Digestion Facility.

The city says construction is complete and the facility is currently in the commissioning phase, processing organic feed stock from municipal solid waste and generating bio-gas.

“Transitioning to the Anaerobic Digestion Facility has been the city’s plan for the future and now these plans will be expedited,” he said.

The anaerobic composting process is essentially decomposition or putrefaction – due to the lack of oxygen – similar to what happens in a stomach.

The city’s website says the ADF will:

  • Process up to 48,000 tonnes of organic waste per year and divert it from landfill
  • Create renewable energy in the form of electricity and heat
  • Produce high quality compost for use in agriculture and horticulture
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Remove odours created during the process by using bio-filters

Labrecque said the city is looking at other medium-term alternatives, but no details were released.

He noted the changes in how the city deals with compost will not affect the 8,000 homes in 13 neighbourhoods taking part in the Edmonton Cart Rollout pilot program, in which residents use separate carts and bags for the four main types of waste, including organics.

READ MORE: 13 Edmonton neighbourhoods to test out new garbage sorting, collection system

Waste services has been planning for an additional organics processing facility aimed at providing a long-term substitute for the composter. Labrecque said it wouldn’t likely come to fruition until around 2023 to 2025.

— More to come…

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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