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Cleanout Conundrums

STRATHCLAIR, Man. - The office manager of a Manitoba grain and fertilizer hauling company is greatly frustrated with the lack of cleanout facilities available in that province. Yet grain companies are...

STRATHCLAIR, Man. –The office manager of a Manitoba grain and fertilizer hauling company is greatly frustrated with the lack of cleanout facilities available in that province. Yet grain companies are demanding cleaner trailers, and receivers don’t necessarily want to deal with the waste, according to Ken Wozney of RTM Transport.

Wozney has three main concerns regarding this issue: the expense of utilizing private facilities when cleanout facilities are not provided after delivering grain or fertilizer; the extra expense of travelling to cleanout facilities when receivers won’t allow cleanout; and cross-contamination, when trucks are not cleaned out properly.

Wozney, who also serves as the Reeve of Strathclair, Man., is particularly irked that drivers are asked to keep trailers clean between loads, but not all of the grain and fertilizer receivers are supplying cleanout facilities. When receivers do offer cleanout facilities, there is the potential for time-wasting line-ups, he adds. And, despite the challenges of keeping trailer clean, customers seeking delivery services are asking for cleaner trailers.

Cleanout is a procedure intended to prevent cross-contamination of commodities with different grades and treatments, all of which shouldn’t be mixed, according to Wozney.

“Disease is a big issue now. So, (receivers) would prefer that you stay right away from cleaning out on their property because they don’t really know what you had in your trailers before that, or what your last five loads were,” he says.

Wozney indicates that RTM keeps its trailers well-cleaned between loads, but not every grain and fertilizer hauler is quite as diligent.

He believes that some grain haulers may have residue left over from the last five or six loads in their trailers as a result of not sweeping out their trailers. Fertilizer is a particular concern, he adds, when it comes to trailer cleanliness.

RTM has cleanout facilities at its two main sites. It has also made arrangements with private washout facilities, where truck drivers can sweep debris into dumpsters, but this is an extra cost to the grain hauling business which can run as high as $100.

“It’s not the grain companies that are paying these places to clean up the mess. It’s us doing that,” says Wozney.

With a lack of adequate cleanout facilities within easy reach of delivery destinations, Wozney says more and more grain haulers are cleaning their trailers out in public areas, either beside rural roads, or around highway rest areas, where he says scattered grain residue is a frequent sight.

“It’s just because there are no spots designated to clean the trailers out,” he says of a practice strictly prohibited by the management of RTM Transport.

The potential for crop cross-contamination is another concern, according to Wozney, when grain is left in public areas, such as the side of the road. A light breeze can pick up the seeds and spread them out to nearby fields. The negative consequence of grain residue on public roadways should be apparent to the provincial government, according to Wozney.

“There are piles all over the place, and they’re sending their crews out to clean it up. Also, of course, you have grain along the highway, and then you’re attracting wildlife,” he adds. “You have more wildlife claims on your vehicles, because they’re right on the edge of the road now, and that grain’s attracting them.”

Ultimately, Wozney believes the Manitoba government should put pressure on grain/fertilizer receivers to provide adequate cleanout facilities and eliminate the problem.

“They’re not doing anything about it and it’s costing them money. It’s costing everybody money. So they’ve really got to get aggressive and force these guys to install cleanouts, or they have to start building cleanouts themselves,” he says.

According to Mike Kagan, director of crops for the Manitoba government, the province doesn’t consider cleanout requirements, or cleanout facilities, an issue.

“We haven’t seen it as a problem so far,” he says. “No one has contacted us either on the trucking side, or the operator’s side. The people we’ve talked to, look at it as a cost of doing business that is borne by the industry.”

While it is possible that some people may be dumping grain residue on the side of the road (which was confirmed by Kagan’s industry sources), this practice is not considered ethical by the industry, or legal under the Manitoba Environmental Act.

And, though there are no provincially-designated cleanout facilities in Manitoba, to the best of Kagan’s knowledge there are also none in Saskatchewan or Alberta.


‘Disease is a big issue now. So (receivers) would prefer that you stay right away from cleaning out on their property.’

Ken Wozney, RTM

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