SIX NATIONS – Sometimes when there is a changing of the guard at the leadership level, there are issues half done that either fall through the cracks or become somewhat confused in the transition. It appears the Kearns disintegrator system is in one of those situations.
The initial agreement with the Nova Scotia inventor John Kearns was struck between former Elected Chief Bill Montour and Kearns over several months. The agreement, which was passed and signed on behalf of Six Nations Council and Kearns, included the stipulation that when the unit is up and ready, it would be tested to see if it in fact did what Kearns said it would do.
Now that a loaner disintegrator prototype unit has been brought in from Nova Scotia and set up and tested to prove its technology to Council, the new council members are requesting a new demonstration period of 30 days.
There have been some challenges with finding the right type of workers to fill the operator positions in the past, however moving forward, Kearns will be working closely with Public Works and the employment agency to successfully fill in these important positions, according to Kearns.
In response to the main concern about the unit only running six times since coming here, Kearns points to several reasons for this. He says that tweaking and minor repairs of the 10-year-old demonstrator prototype unit, which had to be disassembled, loaded on trucks and shipped from Nova Scotia to Six Nations in parts, then reassembled in a new location doesn’t happen like clockwork. There are always unforeseen problems to deal with in its reassembly.
Councillors Dave Hill and Bob Johnson want to see a timeframe put on getting the unit up and running at full efficiency before they release any more money for the project. And so does Kearns who has been living in the area for several months personally overseeing the reassembly and test fire-ups of the unit.
“This unit needs two people here at all times,” he says. “It is unsafe and even illegal to run it with less than that.”
Kearns learned that lesson himself last weekend when he fell on the ice while working on the back of the temporary enclosure for the prototype. He injured his leg in the fall and will be sidelined from doing his own work on the unit for a time. But he says he can and will still oversee the project.
Kearns says that, although some of his crew are “exemplary workers and highly responsible, others have proven themselves not to be and have not even given notice when they were not coming in to work so I could schedule someone else in.”
“When that happens we have to shut it down,” Kearns says. “Every time the disintegrator is shut off, it takes hours to rebuild up the temperatures needed to run efficiently.”
To help get past the chronic situation, Kearns has proposed to bring in three of his men from Nova Scotia to train people on the running and maintenance of the machine and to get it up and running continuously.
Council has requested proper training of the operators and since Kearns is unable to run all three shifts himself, the alternative was to bring over four men from Nova Scotia to train during the 30 day demonstration period.
As far as Kearns is concerned, the original agreement is still in effect, but he has drafted a supplementary agreement, which he wants Band Council to sign off on.
KI will work with Six Nations Band Council to find the appropriate people to fill a two person per shift schedule – one with lead-hand or shift manager experience, and another with industrial experience.
“We are going to have better controls over shift operators as there was lack of proper communication on both sides,” says Kearns.
Both SN and KI will clearly identify what constitutes as a failure to operate during this new demonstration period and will work closely with each other for its successful completion.
In the meantime, Kearns is working on finishing up the building enclosure in preparation for the Nova Scotia crew’s arrival.
Kearns and Council both understand the importance of having the operators properly trained are looking forward to this demonstration period running successfully. This training period by the Kearns crew will ensure that SN operators become intimately comfortable with running and operating the prototype unit while Kearns moves ahead with building the new commercial unit.
“I will work with Council to see this project through and will provide Council and its community members the waste management solution it so deserves,” said Kearns.
“We hope to get this resolved as soon as possible. Once we are satisfied, we will look at the next steps,” says Chief Hill.