Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Nova Scotia’s department of education in Halifax is conducting a hazard assessment to determine if a propane tank in Nova Scotia, in close proximity to an elementary school is an acceptable risk to students and facility being built near the propane depot.
The location of the new Kings County Academy School in Kentfield Nova Scotia was determined to years ago, says Glenn Frio, Communications Officer for the provincial department. At that time, Friel says, “there was an understanding that the propane tank at the nearby superior propane facility would be moved,” which has not occurred.
The issue had become more pressing in February since construction of the school, which will house 560 students, was nearing its March completion date.
A spokesperson for Superior Propane, says that the company is comfortable with an offer to really relocate to a nearby industrial park, but officials have asked the town to absorb associated costs. Mayor Dave Corkum confirms that town and company officials are “in discussions” over the matter.
Brian Taylor, a communications officer for Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education in Halifax, says that propane installations are governed by the Canadian Standards Association’s propane and storage and handling code, requirements of which are also spelled out in provincial regulations. “The propane plant is a safe distance from the school as per the regulations and we inspect the facility on an annual basis,” Taylor says.
Proximity to propane facilities can be dangerous, depending on the activities underway. For example, Sunrise Propane Energy Group in Toronto was the site of a deadly explosion on August 10, 2008. At about 3:50 AM that morning, “ a vapour cloud of propane from a substantial leak ignited,” generating a massive fireball notes a provincial report.
The report confirmed a leak during an illegal truck-to-truck liquid propane transfer caused the explosion. Company employee Parmenter Singh Saini, 25, was killed and Bob Leek, a District Fire Chief for Toronto fire services, died of a heart attack at the scene.
Measures were recently adopted in Ontario to ensure propane safety obligations are in line with the size and capacity of each facility. As of January 1, 2011, provincial regulations contain a revised risk and safety management plan process for propane transfer facilities.
A risk assessment dealing with the propane tank should have been completed before the thought of ever placing a school so close and nearby. What were they thinking? I agree with Superior Propane that the ‘Tank Moving’ costs should be absorbed by the school board as the tank was there first and not a danger to anyone in the area.
Following the lead in Ontario, Nova Scotia now has adequate legislation to protect workers in and around propane depots and facilities or at least is looking closer to issues around large propane facilities. It is sad to see this type of change in legislation driven by a severe accident in a workplace where either a critical injury occurred or a death.
The accident in Toronto at the Sunrise Propane facility is a great example for all provinces to consider changes in their propane facilities around the country. Please do not wait and delay the changes until an accident occurs and someone dies. Be pro-active! Use the examples listed above to create an atmosphere of change and safety in your workplace and your province.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, Propane Handling and Exchange’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.