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24 hour emergency #






                                                                  By Dr. Tony Sperling, P.Eng.
                                                                  Sperling Hansen Associates

In early November 1999, a 250,000 m(3) cell of the Delta Hake and Landfill erupted into flames. The initial Extinguishment efforts by the landfill owner accelerated combustion of the construction demolition waste. Within week, smoke from the fire cast a thick haze over the Vancouver skyline, streams in the area were threatened by leachate from the firefight and workers on adjacent properties were being affected by smoke and odors. On November 27th, the Mayor of Delta declared a State of Local Emergency and The British Columbia Fire Commissioner ordered the Delta Fire Department to take control and extinguish the blaze.

Complicating the firefight at the landfill was the presence of a high pressure natural gas main that provides heating fuel for nearly one half million customers in Vancouver, as well as a large volume sewer force-main, a water supply main, a high voltage transmission line and a railway line. All of these utilities were located immediately adjacent to the landfill in unstable peat and were potentially threatened should a slope failure or excessive settlement have occurred during extinguishment efforts.

The extinguishment strategy involved closing up the 200 x 200 m burn zone, rapid construction of PVC lined cool down areas on expropriated property, excavation and wetting down of the burning material and, ultimately, replacement of the extinguished material back in the landfill.

Geotechnical design and monitoring of the lay down areas on top of and adjacent to the landfill were key aspects of the project, as the gas pipeline company had zero tolerance for stress induced displacements.

The fire was fully extinguished over a period of two months at a cost exceeding 2 million. The extinguished material is currently being placed back in the landfill in a fireproof manner and properties expropriated during the firefight are being restored to their owners.     

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