Following 3,600 acre fire, CARB orders suspension of two DPFs

| Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A spark from a moving diesel truck has been blamed for starting a large fire in Washington state – prompting the California Air Resources Board to order the suspension of sales and installation of two specific metallic diesel particulate filters.

The fire in south Washington covered 3,600 acres, and was sparked just two days before Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls notified CARB about a failure occurring with its filters.

The case highlights the difficulty of the unknown effects of new technology as truck makers, engine builders and aftermarket parts suppliers continually invent new ways to meet increasingly strict emission regulations.

As a result of the fire and a subsequent investigation into a diesel filter regeneration system, the California Air Resources Board last week ordered Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls to immediately suspend sales and installations of its LongMile and Allmetal diesel particulate filters.

Gale Plummer of Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls of San Leandro, CA, said the company is in the early stages of its investigation. 

 “We don’t know the root cause of the event in Washington,” Plumber told Land Line Magazine. “Our system was on a vehicle that had a failure we’d never seen before, and we don’t know what caused it. Until we figure out what caused it, we’re not selling any more.”

In the letter, CARB also ordered Cleaire to recall and remove all “LongMile filters installed on exhaust gas recirculation-equipped (EGR) Cummins ISX engines.”

Plummer said Cleaire dealers have contacted truck owners with the metallic filters, and are installing a “muffler modular” in the filter’s place until all concerns with the filters are fully investigated.

In written correspondence with Land Line Magazine, CARB said Cleaire alerted CARB on Sept. 9 that a LongMile DPF unit operating in Washington “had an uncontrolled regeneration and melted through the outer casing of the filter.”

On Sept. 13, CARB says, Cleaire gave CARB staff a presentation on the failed LongMile DPF unit. “At this time, Cleaire indicated that this unit was suspected of causing a large fire in Washington state.”

According to the Yakima Herald-Republic,fire investigators at the Washington Incident Command Team said a major fire 12 miles northeast of Goldendale, WA, was started Sept. 7. Investigators believe the fire “may have been started by a truck” on Highway 97, the Herald-Republic reported, when the truck sent sparks into dry grass.

That fire reportedly destroyed more than 100 structures, including at least 29 residences.

CARB ordered Cleaire to provide certified mail to owners and operators of vehicles equipped with LongMile or AllMetal DPF systems with instructions for appropriate action to take if a system warning light is illuminated, and to report to CARB any emissions system failures within two days of being informed of an incident.

The company also was ordered to inspect all other EGR-equipped engines that use LongMile DPF filters, and submit plans to fix filters that show emissions failures by Sept. 30.

  1. Immediately recall and remove from service all LongMile DPF filters installed on buses, and all AllMetal filters installed on off-road equipment;
  2. Immediately begin an inspection of all other EGR-equipped engines using LongMile DPF filters, and submit a plan to remedy and prevent release of material in all failure modes on vehicles with these engines and systems no later than Sept. 30;
  3. Submit a plan to remedy and prevent release of material in all failure modes on all other vehicles.

In a statement sent to Land Line Magazine, CARB didn’t identify the location or date of the fire, but said on Sept. 9 “Cleaire alerted ARB that a LongMile unit operating in the state of Washington had an uncontrolled regeneration and melted through the outer casing of the filter,” a timeline said. “

About 200 trucking fleets have been affected by the recall, CARB said.

“ARB staff is continuing to work closely with Cleaire on necessary remedial actions,” the air quality agency said, in a written statement issued to Land Line Magazine.

Cleaire is looking first at trucks with EGR systems, Plummer said.

“EGR are the most difficult to manage in a fleet, frankly,” he said. “We’re focusing on those engines first. But we’re not sure what path this is taking.”

Plummer said a tow truck driver responding to the truck that started the fire gave a statement that contradicted statements from the truck driver, and said some initial statements had already been redacted.

The DPF’s failure in Washington was a first for the filter, Plummer said. Cleaire, a 10-year-old company, has 14,000 filter systems on the road today, he said.