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

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

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 10, 2014

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.

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.’’