Leaked report blames tank-to-tank propane transfer for 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.

Curiouser and curiouser

Lewis Carroll was a masterful logician and a wonderful storyteller, wrote Michael Friendly, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health and chair of the Quantitative Methods specialization within the Graduate Program in Psychology, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Aug. 5. If [Carroll] were around today, he would marvel at Treasury Board President Stockwell Day’s twisted logic and liberal use of fantasy, wrote Friendly.

National statistics once again reliably reported that crime rates had decreased this year, yet Day has conjured an epidemic of “unreported crimes” – violent crimes, by his implication – as justification for spending billions of dollars to build prisons and impose harsher sentencing.

Similarly, his defence of scrapping the mandatory long-form census while retaining the mandatory short-form version so defies even the rudiments of conventional logic that it fits right into Through the Looking Glass. Of course, these initiatives work quite nicely together, because they make it easier to say whatever you want by eliminating statistical facts.

Day might well have borrowed from the Queen of Hearts:

Minister Day: “Alice, my dear, are you ready for your sentence?” Alice: “But there has to be a verdict first.” Minister: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!”

Marko Pirovic is seeking gold

For the second time in as many summers, local basketball player Marko Pirovic will challenge for national basketball championship gold, wrote the Caledon Enterprise Aug. 4.

Pirovic won gold last year in Kamloops as a member of the U15 Team Ontario. The Grade 11 Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School student will now face some of the biggest and best U17 basketball talent Canada has to offer.

Team Ontario U17 head coach and York University Lions men’s basketball assistant coach Chris Cheng commends Pirovic on his development and aggressive style of play, saying, “Marko is a pleasure to coach. He works hard and plays aggressively smart. He does a nice job setting the tone inside for us offensively and goes out of his way to make sure that tone spreads on our defensive end. He has established good relationships with his teammates and coaches with his mature personality. We expect Marko to continue to develop under our direction and program and we are excited to see the outcomes of his work at the national championships.”

Will Munro proved adept at many pursuits

Will Munro was a hub, a strong-hearted community builder who broke through the silos in this city’s culture – east, west; gay, straight; punk, disco; you name it – and, once in while, let us believe the impossible: There was room for everyone, all at once, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 5 in an obituary.

Munro died in May, succumbing to brain cancer after a two-year struggle at the heartbreakingly young age of 35. Posthumously, Munro’s work will be getting significant treatment, with La Centrale in Montreal presenting an exhibition of his work next April – the first-ever show of a male artist at the devoutly feminist space. “He would be so proud of that,” artist Luis Jacob said. Then, in 2012, the Art Gallery of York University will launch a major retrospective of his work.

Seal hunt leaves grad ashamed to be Canadian

Yet again I find myself in the position of being ashamed to be Canadian, wrote Glendon grad Heather Campbell (BA ’10) in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper published in the Brockville, Ont.-based weekly St. Lawrence EMC Aug. 5.

In case you have not realized, not all Canadians feel the same way you may about the Canadian seal hunt, wrote Campbell. Although you may claim that it is not subsidized by the Canadian government, the mere fact that it is allowed to continue on Canadian soil is enough of an allowance. With baby and adult seals being murdered in the hundreds or thousands, I cannot see the point, other than economic value.

Fisheries & Oceans Canada cannot be allowed to continue this massive killing of defenceless animals each year in our North. It is representing Canada horribly and making our country seem as though it does not care about its animals.

On air

  • Allan Hutchinson, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about a challenge to a new law on drinking and driving for young people, on 680News Radio Aug. 4.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about an expected show of northern lights in Ontario, on CBC-TV in Yellowknife Aug. 4.
  • Glendon grad Paul Summerville (BA Comb. Hons. ’80), formerly an economist with several major investment banks and now a senior Fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, spoke about rethinking economies, on TVO’s “The Agenda” Aug. 4.