By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
The Durham York Energy Centre has been hit by a fire for the second time in two months.
According to a news release from the Region of Durham, the incinerator experienced a problem at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, shortly after the site was taken off the electrical grid and running on self-generated power due to work Hydro One was doing in the area. The problem led to a plant shutdown. An hour later, Covanta employees spotted a fire on the roof near the west side of the facility, with the Clarington fire department immediately called. According to the news release, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change was also notified of the situation.
Hydro One was able to restore power to the site by 1:30 p.m.
The fire was contained and extinguished by 4:30 p.m., with Boiler No. 1 restarted by 7:30 p.m. and processing garbage by 1 a.m.
In the mean time, Boiler No. 2 remains offline.
“It appears the damage was contained to an exterior portion of the building above boiler number two —a small section of the roof where the fire was first observed,” Susan Siopis, the region’s works commissioner, states in a news release.
“As a precautionary move, boiler number two will not be restarted until the damage assessment has been completed.”
This fire comes two months to the day from another fire at the site. Clarington firefighters were called to the incinerator on the afternoon of Oct. 11 after workers noticed smoke in the pit.
“So they initiated a fire monitor and implemented the standard operating procedures, and what that means is the facility water cannons were initiated. In the pit, there’s big water cannons where if you see any smoke or there’s a fire, it’s designed so that these cannons can blast it with water,” Craig Bartlett, the region’s manager of waste operations, told The Oshawa Express at the time.
That smoke turned into a fire when crews began to take a look at where it was coming from.
“They used the grapple to lift where the smoke is so they could get in there and actually extinguish it,” he said.
“So if you lift that waste, a little bit of oxygen is introduced into it, and it did ignite. It was a very small fire – about the size of a small SUV.”
Bartlett also said that, because the incinerator is constantly burning garbage, an exact cause of what caused that first fire would likely never be known.
“We may never know what caused that. It could have been a cigarette butt in there that just continued to smolder,” he said.
According to data from the website for the Durham York Energy Centre, both boilers at the incinerator were back up and running the day following the October fire.
The Region of Durham was unable to provide someone for comment for this story prior to press time.