After two fires and multiple recalls, DPF maker Cleaire folds

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, January 28, 2013

A major manufacturer of diesel particulate filters has shut down after its filters were blamed for starting two brush fires – including a major forest fire.

Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls, based in San Leandro, CA, closed up shop permanently Jan. 18. The manufacturer’s closing is expected to cause headaches for truck owners who have installed Cleaire filters in order to meet emissions mandates by the California Air Resources Board.

CARB directed questions to an announcement on its website.

“ARB is committed to ensuring that these impacts are minimized and wishes to make it clear that affected owners and fleets with Cleaire filters, as noted by ARB records, will not be penalized for missing deadlines with applicable ARB regulations until this situation is resolved,” CARB said in the announcement.

“Fleet owners who have devices from other manufacturers will not be affected by Cleaire’s closure and will continue to be subject to applicable regulations.”

In September 2011, a spark kicked from a big rig and started a 3,600-acre forest fire that destroyed 100 structures and displaced hundreds of rural Washington residents. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources investigation blamed the fire on the DPF and estimated the fire’s total cost at $5.2 million.

That fire was fought first by a group of nuns, whom a local newspaper photographed while they worked a bucket line before they were eventually replaced by more than 800 firefighters.

A second fire in Aug. 2012 burned three acres of brush land. The fire was blamed on the failure of a LongMile diesel particulate filter made by Cleaire. That fire apparently spelled the beginning of Cleaire’s end.

“Findings have shown a failure of the engine’s turbocharger occurred, resulting in significant amounts of oil being released into the engine’s exhaust system, which ignited and melted the LongMile’s metal core,” an October 2012 response from CARB reads. “Upon learning of this incident, ARB staff directed Cleaire to immediately suspend all sales and new installations of the LongMile.”

As of Monday, the company’s former website, www.cleaire.com, didn’t exist. Attempts to reach CEO Gale Plummer were unsuccessful.

CARB and Cleaire once had a history of working together.

Tom Swenson, who served as Cleaire’s vice president of distribution, worked with CARB for 10 years as program manager at the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
Last July – nine months after CARB issued its approval for the LongMile DPF system, CARB awarded the CARB Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award to Cleaire President and Chief Technology Officer Brad Edgar.

The award, CARB’s highest honor, is named after Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit, CARB’s first chairman.

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