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Professor Mark Winfield on eaked report blaming tank-to-tank propane transfer for Toronto's Sunrise explosion

Professor Mark Winfield on eaked report blaming tank-to-tank propane transfer for Toronto's Sunrise explosion

A leaked report from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office on the eve of the second anniversary of the massive Downsview explosion at Sunrise Propane blames a tank-to-tank transfer of propane for the blast, wrote the North York Mirror Aug. 4:

The transfer, which Sunrise had previously been ordered to cease performing, caused liquid propane to leak from a hose and triggered the explosion in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2008.

The report, which was printed July 9 but only came to light this week, did not specify what caused the leaked propane to ignite. Its findings are not new, according to a York University expert on the Sunrise blast.

“It seems to be confirming things that were out there already. It confirms the hypothesis on the cause of the fire,” said Mark Winfield, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Winfield pointed out the report calls attention to the fact Sunrise was ordered by the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) to cease and desist doing tank-to-tank transfers less than two years before the explosion.

That shows just how little teeth the TSSA has, Winfield said. The TSSA is a non-profit, self-regulating organization run by industry officials to administer and enforce public safety laws in areas such as fuels, elevators and amusement rides.

It was created when the former Mike Harris government divested the province of responsibility for safety inspections. Ever since, Winfield said there has been a decline in safety standards, frequency of inspections and propane storage regulations. “It (the explosion) brought it to a head in a very dramatic sort of way,” he said. “In my experience, when things go boom like that, it is usually not ‘an accident’. It is usually the final chain in a whole series of failures.”

While the province passed legislation in the wake of the Sunrise explosion to bring the TSSA more under government control, Winfield said it still remains a separate body self-regulated by the industry. He believes the government should directly control the duties carried out by the TSSA.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.