WILMINGTON — It’s not every day a person has to drive to Canada in the wee hours of the morning to get a new trash compactor. But Braden Dunham, the superintendent of Wilmington’s sanitation department and landfill, had to after the city’s current trash compactor broke down and the city needed a new one.
After their current one’s engine quit working around two weeks ago, Dunham researched both the web and through contacts to find a new one. Dunham described the machine as a vital part of the landfill.
“It is the life-blood for this place,” said Dunham, “it would be like if the water main broke.”
A landfill trash compactor is a vehicle that functions to spread the waste evenly in layers over the landfill and to compact the waste reduce its volume and help stabilize the landfill. It does this by using its steel wheels to shred and press together waste. The higher a landfill’s compaction, the more trash can be stored. This also reduces landslides, cave-ins, and minimizes the risk of explosions of landfill gas.
Finding a replace was not an easy task, one reason is that Wilmington’s landfill being one of the few that’s municipally owned and that provides their own waste collecting service, others are placed around big cities that have machines readily available, according to Dunham. The other reason is that he was looking for a used one.
“It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. When an engine blows up in your antique car, you’re kind of searching for a needle in a haystack, the used market they’re not plentiful,” he said.
According to Dunham, a newer one would take up to four months to be delivered, the used one he found would take seven to ten days to deliver. A new one would also cost over $700,000 and said that since the future of Wilmington’s landfill is undetermined at this point.
“We don’t know if we’re going to expand, we don’t know if we’re going to cap it off and be done with it in about four years. So why invest $740,000 on a machine that’s only going to be here in four years?” said Dunham
Eventually, he came across one for sale in London, Ontario, Canada through a company called Marcel. The compactor they’re looking is a slightly bigger version of the one that broke down. The Bomag BC672RB-2 cost a fraction of the price at $150,000 and will allow them to compact more trash.
Dunham started his six-hour trek at 3:30 a.m. on Friday after the council approved, in a unanimous vote, a resolution presented at the Jan. 5 meeting to make the purchase. According to him, the only trouble he had was dealing with the cold and that his heater didn’t work as well. Dunham expressed his gratitude towards the council for approving this.
As for the older compactor, Dunham is looking at either selling it for scrap or possibly fixing it and having it as a backup.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574