Decision to locate propane facility in Cornwall 'worst ever', says resident

Jim Day
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North River Fire Department says no threat of explosion during propane facility fire Monday

At least one resident of Cornwall would like to have a propane storage facility moved a good piece from his town.

A fire early Monday morning only added to his ongoing angst.

“It’s a huge bomb waiting to go off,’’ says Ed Prebinski.

“It can’t be in a town. We can’t grow around that area.’’

However, North River Fire Department Chief Kirby Wakelin says there was no potential for the tank, which was filled with 50,000 litres of propane, to explode.

The tank, in fact, would have posed a greater threat of exploding if it was only partially full or empty due to the presence of vapours.

Firefighters did not know immediately upon arrival whether the tank was full. The North River Fire Department and the Queens District RCMP were dispatched at about 3:10 a.m. to the facility on W.B. MacPhail Drive.

A passserby called 911 to report he saw flames on the property.

Wakelin said when firefighters arrived the cab of a tractor-trailer appeared to have been burning for some time. A large cylinder trailer containing propane was attached to the truck.

Firefighters reacted promptly in getting the fire under control and extinguished. About 20 firefighters responded to the call, spending up to 90 minutes at the scene.

The provincial fire marshal is conducting an investigation into the fire.

Prebinski calls the decision to allow the propane storage facility in the Cornwall Business Park the “worst ever’’ made by the town council at the time.

“It’s a huge bomb waiting to go off." Ed Prebinski

The business park has been in place since the late 1990s and its propane tenant has been there since at least 2008.

In 2012, developer Kevin Connors raised concerns about the propane storage facility being located near residential lots.

Fellow developer Tim Banks shot back that no residential lots exist anywhere close to the facility. He even provided The Guardian with an aerial photo of the area to back his claim.

Yet Prebinski, who holds a certificate as a disaster management consultant, says the facility is too close to some housing. He lives about three kilometres from the site.

Wakelin said Kenmac Energy, which owns the propane facility, is very aware of potential dangers. He said training at Kenmac, and all other propane companies in the province, is top notch.

The Guardian was unable to get a comment from Kenmac Energy.

Cornwall town Coun. Irene Dawson told the newspaper Monday the facility meets all requirements and guidelines. She said residents don’t seem to be concerned over the facility being in its current location.

“I don’t think it is an issue,’’ she said. “I really don’t.’’

Organizations: Fire Department, Queens District RCMP

Geographic location: Cornwall, North River, Kenmac Cornwall Business Park

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Recent comments

  • peggy
    June 11, 2014 - 13:49

    So who is this Mr. Prebinski and where did he get the authority and qualifications to judge this the "worst ever". He holds, the article states - a certificate as a disaster management consultant . From where and what does it qualify him to do as in real terms ? What has he ever done to entitle him to be heard and where are the objective grounds for his comments ? Just another little person crying in the dark to be heard. So sad.

  • Resident of pei
    June 10, 2014 - 16:33

    I think personally that this facility is a lot safer population wise then the one in charlottetown considering charlottetown has three that I know of and Cornwall has one give it a rest people

  • Yup
    June 10, 2014 - 11:19

    If it was on governors island would that make you all happy? Everyone wants to own one acre of property and control twenty.

    • Justin simmonds
      June 10, 2014 - 15:42

      That is an incredibly accurate quote for this case and many many more like it!

  • Another Eliot Park resident
    June 10, 2014 - 10:04

    More than a few homes in this neighbourhood run on propane. The facility has to go somewhere, and there isn't anywhere on PEI that isn't within a km or two of a residential area. If the NR fire chief is confident, that's good enough for me.

  • Elliot park resident
    June 10, 2014 - 09:26

    I was outside at 4:00 am in Elliot park and the smell of propane was unreal. For those on here saying this is not an issue do not know what they are talking about. Fire chief and Irene Dawson included. This is not the last story about this facility.

    • Cornwall Resident
      June 10, 2014 - 12:19

      How could you have smelled propane when there was no propane leak during the fire. You may have smelled the smoke from the fire, but if the propane smell was that strong then the facility would have blown up....maybe you should check your BBQ tank and make sure its connected properly.

  • Trainging
    June 10, 2014 - 06:31

    "He said training at Kenmac, and all other propane companies in the province, is top notch." Really? So how did the fire start then?

  • Justin simmonds
    June 10, 2014 - 06:07

    This is a 'non-issue'!!!! Just somebody else trying to get their name in the paper!!

  • voter
    June 10, 2014 - 05:56

    "MONEY TALKING"