Blog Post #2 – Lessons Learned From The Sunrise Propane Accident

The final report from the Sunrise propane explosion, in August 2008, has been published. The T.S.S.A., (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) reported illegal truck-to-truck transfers at Sunrise as early as 2006 BUT issued warnings only. Where was the tough stand needed! A couple of deaths, including a fire fighter, were the catalyst to drive even greater safety measures in Ontario.

My problem stems from the fact that there were other explosions, including the very large one on November 09, 2004 at the Caledon Propane and Storage facility on Port Darlington Road, Bowmanville which was one of the largest blasts to occur since the propane explosion during 1961 in Maple Ontario. Since zero deaths occurred at the Bowmanville facility then there seemed to be no immediate need for any corrective action which, may of course, saved the lives of those lost at Sunrise. At the time, the Clarington municipal government was considering relocating the depot. This same position was discussed in the wards and local ratepayers associations around the Sunrise compound.

(On a personal note, I was on my way to work in Oshawa during the event and almost stranded on the 401.)
Most people have heard or repeated the same adage over and over.  “Someone has to die before something happens” For example, how many sets of street lights are placed at intersections AFTER terrible accidents occur? I bet most of us have a place that we know of where this has happened. The same can be said for the improvement to propane legislation.

In January 2010, the newest updated version of the B149.2-10 codebook was issued which included many changes. One in particular was the, now, renewable training requirements for those in the safety training field. At one time, one only needed a ROT (Record of Training) for TTT (Train the Trainer) and one was a trainer for life. Now it is a 3 year renewal system and that renewal will constantly be under review. I am fortunate to be certified through the TSSA, the OPA, (Ontario Propane Association) and the CSAO (Construction Safety Association of Ontario)

Another change in the codebook is that most places storing propane now need a risk assessment officer. There is a complicated formula for the depots to comply or their renewal licences will not be issued and the time limit is January 2011. The new depots needed to have everything in place for January 2010.
The Ontario Propane Association (OPA) says more than 1,400 propane refill facilities across the province may be forced out of business because vendors cannot afford the estimated $25,000 it will cost to prepare a risk and safety management plans a new requirement under Ontario’s Propane Storage and Handling Regulation.

Starting in January, propane dealers will be required to submit a safety plan completed by a professional engineer with an expertise in risk management when applying for a licence renewal with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, regardless of the size of the facility.

Read more:

In closing, the propane industry is one of the safest out there. The problem is not with the industry but in the enforcement of the legislation. If the MOL has anything to say in the matter, (they do) the recent changes will now be strictly enforced and possible new safety legislation looked at.

Daniel L. Beal

Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.
Certified Propane Instructor

Date of blog: December 01, 2010

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