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posted on August 18, 2008

The Star: Explosion that rocked city could have been far worse

Many more than two could have died if the blast had occurred during school hours

By: Thomas Axworthy
Published: August 17, 2008
Source: The Star

Early last Sunday morning, thunderous explosions awoke thousands of Toronto residents. A large propane storage plant near the intersection of Wilson Ave. and Keele St. exploded, sending a fireball into the sky and, as we later learned, asbestos particles into the atmosphere. Soon after, the police arrived with bullhorns urging the terrified citizens of Downsview to flee their homes.

How can one comprehend the trauma of our fellow citizens upon receiving a knock on the door at 4 a.m., urging them to evacuate? Today they wonder if their children are safe from asbestos, if their homes are safe from structural damage, and if their neighbourhood and the resale value of their property will ever be the same after the fire at Sunrise Propane.

Read more >>

posted on August 18, 2008

Toronto Sun: Blast must spark real action

By: This is an unsigned editorial from the Toronto Sun
Published: August 17, 2008
Source: Toronto Sun

Going forward, what are the best ways to ensure there is no repeat of a huge propane depot explosion beside a residential community, as happened at Sunrise Propane early last Sunday in the Keele St.-Wilson Ave. area?

First, the same government regulator which decides whether such a plant is safe must also be responsible for deciding where it goes.

At present, City Hall determines potential locations -- through outdated and inconsistent zoning bylaws -- while a provincial "arm's-length" agency, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), determines whether the facility is being safely operated.

But since where propane is stored is obviously relevant to whether it's safe to the surrounding community, one agency, not two, must make this call from now on and be held accountable for it, either at City Hall or Queen's Park.

Read more >>

posted on August 18, 2008

National Post: PR experts question city's response to blast

'It was a lot of verbiage without a lot of help'

By: Allison Hanes
Published: August 16, 2008
Source: National Post

A mayor who returned from holiday to handle a disaster only to leave again before a fallen firefighter's funeral. A volatile city councillor yelling at a constituent to "shut up" on live television. The comparison of devastating property damage with the Holocaust and Chernobyl.

Experts in communication during a crisis are questioning the city's response to the propane explosion that rocked a North York neighbourhood on Sunday.

Wednesday's press conference at the scene of the blast -- where an angry mob confronted officials over their fears of asbestos exposure and Councillor Maria Augimeri (York Centre) lashed out angrily at a detractor -- was no doubt the communications nadir of a difficult week for the city.

http://www.nationalpost.com/related/links/story.html?id=727885

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and Mail: Everything's on fire, run for your cameras!

By: SARAH BOESVELD
Published: August 16, 2008
Source: Globe and Mail

At 3:40 a.m. last Sunday, Carmine Riossi Jr. was asleep in his North York home when a tremendous rumble blew open the attic door from the ceiling in his room. He ran downstairs and felt another rumble ripple through his body.

"That's when I was in my mood already, 'I have to take some video of what's going on,' " the 19-year-old said from his home on Sunray Crescent, two blocks away from the Sunrise Propane plant at Keele Street and Wilson Avenue.

With no time to fish around for his camcorder, Mr. Riossi grabbed his Sony Ericsson cellphone and ran out with his father, Carmine Riossi Sr.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=310138

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and mail: A silver lining to the zoning mess

By: JOHN BARBER
Published: August 16, 2008
Source: Globe and mail

And on the Eighth Day, God created divers sacred runes, causing them to be engraveth on stone tablets, which He called the Zoning Bylaw, and handed down unto the High Priests of the Israelites so that they might guardeth and cherish the engraved tablets as the Immutable Word of His Unutterable Being. And so they did.

But lo, there came unto the Promised Land a terrible propane explosion, and the people cried out to their Priests to reveal the mighty power of the sacred Tablets. But when the Israelites went unto the temple, they saw that the Priests were dead, and the Tablets as dust.

Whereupon they shrugged and turned their attention back to beach volleyball.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=309029

posted on August 18, 2008

Inside Toronto: NORTH YORK-- Residents find few answers at post-explosion meeting

Councillor faces angry audience

By: CYNTHIA REASON
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: Inside Toronto

Maria Augimeri faced a fury of frustration-fuelled finger pointing last night from residents still suffering the aftermath of Sunday’s massive explosion at a propane facility in Downsview.

Forced to endure a barrage of boos from the 500-plus crowd gathered at the meeting nearly every time she attempted to speak, the Ward 9 (York Centre) councillor shut down criticism over her absence immediately following the blast at Sunrise Propane, attempting instead to assure residents that the “hand of God” was at play in ensuring entire families hadn’t been “wiped out.”

“God’s hands were there, but where were yours?” yelled one man, whose comment spurred jeers from other audience members.

Read more >>

posted on August 18, 2008

COMMUNITY: Ratepayers' meeting on explosion packed to overflowing

‘This is a disaster. Will there be disaster relief?’

By: CLARK KIM
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: Inside Toronto

Hundreds of local residents packed into the basement of St. Norbert Church where the Ancaster Ratepayers Association held its community meeting Thursday night to get answers about the propane explosion that devastated their neighbourhood.

Another hundred or so were asked to listen through speakers upstairs and outside the church as the growing crowd quickly exceeded the building’s capacity.

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Safety agency slammed over propane blast

By: Robert Benzie, Daniel Girard
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: The Star

Large propane facilities across Ontario will face greater scrutiny in the wake of Sunday's deadly explosion in Downsview, promises Consumer Minister Harinder Takhar.

In a face-to-face meeting yesterday, Takhar blasted the brass of the private agency that monitors propane operators and demanded increased inspections of places like the doomed Sunrise Propane.

"I was disappointed in how they have been communicating with the public," he told the Star. "I would expect them to put out information that people can rely upon."

He spoke a day after the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, which implements provincial law on handling of propane, issued a mistake-riddled list mapping the location of large facilities, including one in Toronto that didn't exist, another that was a townhouse development, and one in Keswick that was sold a decade ago.

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Propane plant neighbours voice worries

A community seeking reassurance packs meeting; asbestos hazard among top concerns

VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR
Frank DeFazio, standing, voices concerns about asbestos at a meeting
at St. Norbert's church, just blocks from the Sunrise Propane
blast site, on Aug. 14, 2008.

By: Betsy Powell
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: The Star

Questions about health and safety in the aftermath of last weekend's propane explosion topped the list of concerns of residents who packed a community meeting at a North York church last night. But some just wanted to vent about what happened early last Sunday, forcing 12,000 of them from their homes. Seven families remain unable to return. "No person should ever go through the trauma this community has sustained," said one woman. She wanted to know what kind of help is available to children in the area "who can't sleep at night because of nightmares."

Read more >>

 

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Missing man's kin want answers

Police have not verified if body at blast site belongs to employee, 24

By: Emily Mathieu, Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: The Star

Thousands of kilometres from the heart of a massive propane explosion in a north Toronto neighbourhood, the family of a young man declared missing after the blast is desperate for information.

"They are worried and they do not know what they can do because no family member has a passport. But they want to come to Toronto to try and find out what is going on," said Amar Singh Bhullar, chief editor of Hamdard Weekly, a Punjabi newspaper in Mississauga.

Parminder Saini, 24, has been missing since a massive explosion at Sunrise Propane on Sunday forced the evacuation of thousands.

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Councillor Augimeri booed at meeting

Residents demand apology for 'shut up' remark in aftermath of propane blast

By: Donovan Vincent
Published: August 15, 2008
Source: The Star

Embattled city councillor Maria Augimeri faced angry residents last night at a meeting to address concerns about Sunday's propane explosion.

Though about 800 residents at a North York banquet hall initially greeted her with mostly applause – and a few boos – the meeting later turned nasty with residents criticizing her for telling another resident Wednesday to "shut up."

Several demanded that she apologize for the remarks, but she did not immediately do so. But she later told the Star she had apologized to the "community at large."

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

CBC: Residents express fear, frustration after propane blast

Published: August 15, 2008
Source: CBC

People from the neighbourhood affected by last Sunday's propane explosion in Toronto vented anger and voiced fears at a pair of community meetings Thursday night.

One meeting filled a church hall to overflowing and the other filled a 500-seat banquet hall.

At both meetings, two questions dominated: why a large propane depot was allowed to locate in the neighbourhood and whether the asbestos scattered across people's properties poses a health risk.

The meeting in the banquet hall was organized by local city councillor Maria Augimeri, and there was some good news for homeowners. Sunrise Propane has been ordered to pay for cleaning up all asbestos from the blast.

Read more >>

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and Mail: Propane company twice violated safety codes, regulator reveals

By: JOSH WINGROVE AND JAMIE KOMARNICKI
Published: August 14, 2008
Source: Globe and Mail

Sunrise Propane was found violating provincial safety codes twice in the past two years at the site levelled this week by multiple explosions, but the company was neither shut down nor fined by Ontario's fuel safety regulator.

The revelations came as details - some later found to be outdated or flawed - about Sunrise and the propane industry continued to trickle out of the regulator, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority. The TSSA said yesterday it investigated Sunrise in 2006 and 2007 and found "minor infractions."

The action taken was to increase the frequency of inspections to annually from the usual schedule of every three years.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=702839

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and Mail: Cause of blast still unknown

By: JOSH WINGROVE
Published: August 14, 2008
Source: Globe and Mail

Investigators at the site of Sunday's explosion at a Toronto propane facility aren't yet close to figuring out what caused the blast, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal said Wednesday.

The OFM, one of six agencies investigating the blast site, only Wednesday began the phase of its investigation where it will approach the centre of the blast area, where the original explosion is thought to have occurred, said the OFM's Bryan Fischer.

“They've only just made their fire real entry to the scene,” Mr. Fischer said. “Before we can even address the cause, we need to find out where the explosion originated.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080814.wpropanecause0814/BNSto

posted on August 18, 2008

Telegraph: Lifeboat team rapped for using 'unsuitable boat' to save drowning girl

Published: 14/08/2008
Source: Telegraph Media Group

The Hope Cove coastguard team in South Devon defied orders not to take the 17-foot inflatable to sea when they saw a 13-year-old being swept out to sea by a rip current.

The boat had recently been repaired and was awaiting a seaworthiness inspection.

Despite battling through waves to rescue the teenager bosses at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency were furious on their return and confiscated their boat. All the volunteers have now been threatened with disciplinary action.

Recently retired coastguard Dave Clark, aged 54, said: "Everyone in the village is very angry. They feel the crew are being punished for trying to save a life.

Read More >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: 'Shut up!' Councillor at propane blast site erupts


COURTESY CITYNEWS
Councillor Maria Augimeri, right, and Tony Di Santo, left,
president of the local Ancaster Ratepayers Association,
break out into a shouting match on Aug. 13, 2008.

By: Paola Loriggio, Donovan Vincent
Published: August 14, 2008
Source: The Star

Steps away from the massive propane blast that tore up her ward Sunday, local Councillor Maria Augimeri yesterday blew up at a constituent who questioned her commitment to the community, telling him to "shut up."

They broke into a shouting match after Tony Di Santo, 69, crashed a city news conference about a batch of asbestos discovered Tuesday evening at neighbourhood daycare and community centres.

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Inspectors open up Sunrise file

In a growing climate of reproach, group outlines its three years' scrutiny of propane blast site

AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/TORONTO STAR
A cleanup crew working for a private contractor comb the grass for
evidence of asbestos at Ancaster Park, a couple of blocks east
of Sunday's massive Murray Rd. propane explosion in
Downsview, on Aug. 13, 2008.

By: Daniel Girard,Robert Benzie
Published: August 14, 2008
Source: The Star

It's responsible for inspecting myriad things that touch our lives – from elevators and ski lifts to fuel storage, boilers in office buildings, amusement park rides and even the stuffing in pillows and teddy bears.

But it was a deadly propane explosion that thrust the Technical Standards and Safety Authority into the public spotlight.

Last night, the private, not-for-profit agency responded to the serious questioning of its effectiveness at protecting Ontarians by releasing first details on three years' worth of inspections at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases – the plant that exploded in a spectacular fireball Sunday.

Read more >>

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Blast neighbours suing for $900M

Lawsuits target city, Sunrise Propane, safety authority and province

By: Nicole Baute
Published: August 14, 2008
Source: The Star

Desperate for some resolve after an explosion at a propane facility shattered their lives this weekend, Downsview residents are seeking more than $900 million in class-action lawsuits against Sunrise Propane and government bodies they feel allowed the company to operate in their neighbourhood.

At least four class-action suits were filed in court yesterday. Some name Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases and other firms listed as operating on the Murray Rd. site. Others name the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario.

Read more >>

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and Mail: Zoning patchwork frustrates propane regulation

Despite city hall's promises, moving facilities away from residential areas

may not take place until new bylaw is previewed next year

By: JOSH WINGROVE
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: Globe and Mail

Pledges to move or close down major propane storage sites like the one that blew up on Sunday, resulting in the deaths of two people, were promptly offered yesterday at city hall.

But they will be difficult to execute, experts said, in part because the city has yet to combine its zoning systems (and their 43 different bylaws) into a single planning regime, more than 10 years after the amalgamation of Toronto, York, East York, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough and Metro into one city. A single, overarching bylaw will be previewed next year, but until then, any changes won't be easy.

"That's why we're doing this project. ... I was hoping to get this done before things like this happened again," said Joe D'Abramo, the city's director of zoning bylaw and environmental planning, who is heading the five-year task of combining the rules - a metre-high stack of papers weighing 35 kilograms.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=702842

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe And mail: Shopkeepers mind empty stores as wary residents return home

By: KATE HAMMER AND JAMIE KOMARNICKI
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: Globe And mail

His fermenting vats of wine need to be chilled between four and five degrees Celsius. So when a neighbouring propane facility exploded and sent a mushroom cloud of fire into the night sky, it also cut off power to the coolers in Mario De Liberato's make-your-own wine store and ruined nearly 500 litres of wine.

Mr. De Liberato stood behind the store's counter yesterday, arms akimbo, staring out at the street through a crystal-clear storefront window. The new window was installed Monday after the old one shattered in Sunday's explosion.

"It cost about $1,000," Mr. De Liberato sighed. "The same as the insurance deductible."

The Wine Emporium, snuggled into a line of family-owned shops on Wilson Avenue near Keele Street, has long been a nexus of the neighbourhood east of what are now the burned remains of Sunrise Propane.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=308990

posted on August 16, 2008

The Star: Sunrise leaves creditor hanging


AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/TORONTO STAR
Scorched remains cover the Sunrise Propane site on Murray Rd.
after the massive explosion there Aug. 10,2008.
First Choice Petroleum still waiting for business to settle unpaid account from 2002,owner says

By: Nicole Baute
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: The Star

The owner of the petroleum company that won a court order for an outstanding payment from Sunrise Petroleum and its owner Sean Ben-Moshe says he is still waiting for payment six years later.

"I just got to the point where I can't afford to chase them," said Rob Lennox, owner of First Choice Petroleum Inc., the defunct company that sued Sunrise Petroleum for an unpaid account and won $93,389.54 plus legal fees in 2002.

Read more >>

posted on August 15, 2008

The Star: Mounting frustration for evacuees


AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/TORONTO STAR
Evacuee Tony Testa expresses his anger at city officials for
not getting Downsview residents back into their homes quicker
after the Aug. 10, 2008 explosion at nearby Sunrise Propane.
Angry residents still waiting to go home displeased with the lack of information being provided by city

By: Daniel Dale
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: The Star

The people who had the pink pieces of paper were pleased. The people who did not were not.

Most of the people evacuated Sunday from the Downsview neighbourhood near Sunrise Propane were permitted to return to their homes by Monday night.

Passes distributed yesterday at Ancaster Public School allowed dozens more to bypass the police checkpoints on their streets.

Upon their returns, they checked for damage – several of them reported none or little – and delighted in simple pleasures: their own beds, their own bathrooms, their own comfortable clothes.

Read more >>

posted on August 15, 2008

The Star: 1995 ruling tied cities' hands on propane tanks

By: John Spears
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: The Star

Municipalities have no business making rules about the safety of propane facilities because the province already does, Ontario's highest court ruled in 1995.

Toronto officials say the 1995 Court of Appeal ruling prevented the city from doing more to prevent propane explosions like Sunday's devastating blast at Sunrise Propane in Downsview.

After a November 1986 propane explosion levelled a Weston Rd. taxi garage, York passed a bylaw that propane tanks couldn't be placed within 100 feet (30 metres) of a building and limited the size of permissible tanks.

Superior Propane Inc. and the Propane Gas Association, supported by the Ontario government, took York to court.

Read more >>

posted on August 15, 2008

The Star: 337 propane sites dot GTA


AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/TORONTO STAR
Angela Palumbo, centre, with her aunt and uncle John and
Maria Palumbo, left, and their daughter-in-law Anna Palumbo,
shows her frustration at still being barred from her Spalding Rd.
home Aug. 12, 2008.

Map note Ontario's Technical Standards and Safety Authority released a list of propane facilities in the GTA Wednesday, which the Star's local checks found to be inaccurate. We are currently reviewing the information to update our map and will bring it back as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Tally shows how tough it will be to buffer city's residential areas

Choosing sites for flammables 'a judgment call'

By: Daniel Girard
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: The Star

A total of 337 sites across the GTA house propane filling tanks – from large plants like the one that blew up Sunday to smaller ones for refilling cylinders for the backyard barbecue – meaning there's probably one in a neighbourhood near you.

Read more >>

posted on August 13, 2008

Nurse 'abandoned' family in crisis

Home-care aide fled, left blind dad, mom alone to move disabled girl, 13, from the danger zone

AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/TORONTO STAR
J.P. Pampena, who is blind, says he's shocked a home-care worker fled
during the Aug. 10, 2008 emergency instead of helping move his
disabled daughter (in photo at left) to safety.

By: Megan Ogilvie
Published: August 13, 2008
Source: The Star

Moments after a crushing boom cracked the night, J.P. Pampena called out to his daughter's nurse for help.

Pampena, who is blind, was desperate to know what it was that rattled his house. He needed another set of eyes to search the darkness for the source of the ominous sound, to tell him whether or not to flee with his family or to hide.

"What keeps re-running in my mind is the sound," said Pampena, 52, who has lived with his wife and daughter, who is severely disabled, in the snug bungalow on Katherine Rd. for 21 years, just blocks from Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases.

Read More >>

posted on August 13, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Mayor, regulator trade blame

Two sides point fingers over who authorized Sunrise Propane to operate so close to residential area

By: TU THANH HA AND JAMES RUSK
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

Mayor David Miller and the provincial safety regulator were pointing fingers at each other yesterday over who had responsibility in authorizing a propane company to operate across the street from private residences, even though the cause of the blasts that rocked a whole Toronto neighbourhood hadn't been determined.

The regulator, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority, noted that the city was informed when Sunrise Propane applied for a licence three years ago.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080812.AFTERMATHZONING12//TPSt

posted on August 12, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Angry residents rally as homes remain shut

People shout about asbestos, and the hungry pets, medications and personal items they had to leave behind

By: KATE HAMMER AND JAMIE KOMARNICKI
With reports from Tu Thanh Ha and Matthew Trevisan
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

A cool summer breeze danced past the two-storey homes on Spalding Road yesterday, the afternoon sun reflected in shards of broken glass. The charred remains of Sunrise Propane sat on the far west end of the working-class street, while a few blocks away, near the east end, angry residents smouldered behind yellow police tape.

Sid Glass, 87, a diminutive retired taxi driver who has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 50 years, stared up at a stern-faced police officer.

"You mean that air over there is worse than this air over here?" he shouted. "I just need five minutes in my house, I need to go to my house!"

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=308991

posted on August 12, 2008

Toronto Sun: Few residents allowed back to 'hot zone'

By: DON PEAT
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: Toronto Sun

They're mad as hell.

Downsview residents couldn't hold back the anger as they spent the third day since Sunday's propane explosion blocked off from their homes.

Most fled for their lives when the Sunrise Propane facility in their neighbourhood burst into flames around 4 a.m.

Some residents in the streets around the Murray St. propane facility, the "hot zone," still aren't being allowed to go home. Several desperate to see their homes continue to show up at the police barricades only to be turned away.

Fire officials are appealing for patience as they continue to clear asbestos out of the area.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Stop finger-pointing, David Miller says

But mayor wonders if propane safety group would be better as an arm of provincial government

By: John Spears
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: The Star

Public safety — not finger-pointing — should be the main concern in the wake of the explosion at the Sunrise Propane facility in Downsview, Mayor David Miler said today.

But Miller also questioned whether the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) — which licenses and inspects operations like Sunrise — should become a department of the provincial government, instead of operating at arm's length.

Toronto's zoning bylaw permitted a wide range of uses on the Murray Rd. site, including propane operations. But the actual license to operate was issued by the TSSA.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Riddles in the ruins

Questions emerge about evacuation, the city's options and Sunrise Propane

By: Daniel Dale
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: The Star

Dino DiMatteo looked across Ancaster Rd. Yellow police tape, and a police car, blocked Regent Rd.'s west side.

DiMatteo understood. Asbestos, he had heard, was in the air. Yet he and his neighbours were allowed to stand 10 metres from the so-called danger zone.

"It's blocked on that side," DiMatteo, 37, said, "and we're on this side. What's the difference between this side and that side?"

Francesco Cugliari, sweeping shattered glass outside his Hispana Travel and Tours store, wondered how five business cards for glass repair companies got left on a chair near his broken window.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Body discovered at blast site

About 100 homes still off-limits; some residents, store owners say they lack insurance

By: Bill Taylor
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: The Star

While angry residents returned to their homes near the site of the propane explosions, an unidentified body was found last night amid the burned-out rubble at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases.

Parmindar Saini, a worker at the plant, had been missing and was feared dead. Police refused to confirm the identity of the body, which was found just before 7 p.m. A 25-year firefighter, District Chief Bob Leek, died at the scene Sunday.

Some frustrated residents of the worst-hit area were still not being allowed back into their homes last night.

The price tag on property damage and compensation for lost business is likely to be tens of millions of dollars. Some residents and store owners say they don't have insurance.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

National Post: Shaken residents go home

Some still waiting; Official marvels at small number of injuries

By: Natalie Alcoba
With Files From Nick Van Praet
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: National Post

The number of homes still off limits after a propane facility exploded over the weekend whittled down to about 50 yesterday, as officials grappled with the aftermath of a massive blast that closed businesses, damaged schools and left many residents with only their pyjamas on.

Thousands of employees, including production workers at the nearby Bombardier plant, had to miss work for all or part of the day as the cleanup around Keele Street and Wilson Avenue got underway. A series of explosions at the Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases plant before dawn on Sunday lit up the night sky and forced 12,000 people living inside a 1.6-kilometre radius to evacuate.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/toronto/story.html?id=716555

posted on August 12, 2008

National Post: Hall Monitor- More explosion evacuees allowed home

By: Allison Hanes
Published: August 12, 2008
Source: National Post

Toronto is fast-tracking its reevaluation of zoning bylaws that permit propane storage facilities Mayor David Miller said Tuesday. The city was already in the process of undertaking a review of all the zoning regulations dating from pre-amalgamation to bring them into harmony. "We will act as quickly as possible with respect to propane," he said, three days after Sunrise Propanes of North York blew up forcing thousands of residents to flee in their pyjamas in the middle of the night.

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2008/08/12/hall-monitor-more-explosion-evacuees-allowed-home.aspx

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: White cloud the first sign of danger


TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR
Firefighters work to put out a fire at Sunrise Propane in Toronto.
A series of explosions started at about 4 a.m., Aug. 10, 2008.

By: Michele Henry
Crime Reporter
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Star

The driver was nearly finished filling his 40,000-litre tanker at a 24-hour propane facility when a bulbous, white propane cloud floated toward him. So the man released his grip on the pump and ran.

The OPP were the first to call 911 about yesterday morning's explosions at Sunrise Propane on Murray Rd. in Downsview, but this man was the first to experience them first hand.

He smelled smoke and propane while on the Sunrise grounds and knew that the slowly advancing cloud had just been released from a tanker under pressure – one about to blow.

Probably just seconds after he fled the scene on foot, massive fireballs roared through the facility. He was making his way to North York General Hospital when he was picked up by a police officer on the road.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Residents survey fire damage


TORONTO STAR/RICK MADONIK
Scorched debris litters the site of a huge explosion early Aug. 10
at the Sunrise propane facility near Wilson Ave. and Keele St.
This photo, taken Aug. 11., shows a burned out transport truck
frame in the top left.

By: Bill Taylor
Feature Writer
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Star

Northwest Toronto is picking itself up and dusting itself off after yesterday’s massive propane explosion turned the area around Wilson Ave. and Keele St. into a wasteland.

There’s a lot of dusting to do.

With some parts of the 1.6-kilometre evacuation area around the devastated Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases distribution plant still closed, mainly because of asbestos pollution, residents and business people are trying to get their lives back on track. Many say they don’t have insurance to pay for the damage.

A series of blasts just before 4 a.m. yesterday flung bright orange fireballs into the air and sent about 12,000 residents, many of them elderly, fleeing from their homes, most still in their night clothes.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Residents return after blast


RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR
Carlos Lopez and a tearful Lucia Echevarria walk away from the scene
with their cat La Gringa after a massive explosion in Toronto's
northwest on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008.

By: Sunny Freeman, Bill Taylor
Staff Reporters
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Star

Some residents remain out of their homes this morning after a massive explosion and fire that rocked a north-end neighbourhood early yesterday.

All lanes and ramps on Hwy. 401 were reopened as the morning rush hour began. The TTC expects to be running as usual in the area, and CN has approved the GO Transit Barrie line, although commuters should expect minor delays. GO bus service should also be operating from the Yorkdale bus terminal as scheduled.

However, about a quarter of the homes at the blast site, near Wilson Ave. and Keele St., are still inaccessible to residents after the Fire Marshal discovered asbestos and cordoned off five streets within a one-block radius. Those streets include:

Read more >>

posted on August 11, 2008

The Star: Mayor orders zoning review after propane fire

By: John Spears
CITY HALL BUREAU
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Star

In the wake of yesterday's propane explosion and fire, Mayor David Miller has ordered a topto- bottom reassessment of the Toronto's zoning bylaws.

Miller also said the Ontario government needs to look into the way its inspectors oversees propane facilities.

"I've met with city staff this morning and I've directed a complete review of our zoning bylaws to determine whether there need to be changes with respect to the safety of facilities of this nature," Miller told the Toronto Star in an interview at his office.

Miller said he has placed a call today to Ontario Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci to ask about the performance of the Technical Safety and Standards Authority (TSSA), which oversees propane facilities.

Read more >>

posted on August 11, 2008

The Star: 'Everybody out! Everybody out! My face just got blown off'


COLIN O'CONNOR/TORONTO STAR
Brian Bittles sits in his car with his family in the parking lot
of a temporary shelter at York University on Aug. 10, 2008.
Bittles' face was injured when a series of explosions at a
propane depot in Toronto blew out a window in his home.

By: Robyn Doolittle
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Star

Something had shaken Brian Bittles awake.

Lying in the dark, next to his wife Lorraine, Bittles listened carefully. It was a shrill hissing sound, he remembers, not unlike air escaping from a tire. It was coming from the propane plant across the street.

Curious, he tiptoed to the open window. Their bedroom was at the back of the family's twostorey brick home, so he had to press his cheek against the screen to get a good look.

An ominous white mist was shooting into the air. His yard, the street, the propane tanks, everything was shrouded in a blanket of fog.

"Then I realized it wasn't fog. The next thing I know – bam! – I was flying across the room," said the 45-year-old.

Read more >>

posted on August 11, 2008

The Globe and Mail: Gas blast causes bedlam in Toronto

One firefighter dies, one man missing, thousands flee after series of propane explosions bring city to standstill

By: JOSH WINGROVE , TU THANH HA and MATTHEW TREVISAN
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Globe and Mail

Boom after boom after boom, the successive blasts rattled homes, blowing doors off their hinges, shattering windows and leaving residents huddled in fear as giant balls of fire burst in the night sky and propane tanks were ejected several kilometres away.

A Toronto neighbourhood of more than 10,000 residents had to be evacuated yesterday after a series of predawn explosions at a 24-hour propane dealer rocked the area, immediately raising questions about the proximity of such a facility to a residential area.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/eceRedirect?articleId=

posted on August 11, 2008

The Globe and Mail: THE PERILS OF PROPANE

By: JOSH WINGROVE
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Globe and Mail

Propane is a volatile gas that is stored and transported in a compressed liquid form, vaporizing only when pressure is released.

At their fullest, propane tanks hold 80 per cent liquid and 20 per cent gas, said Richard Hawrelak, 75, a University of Western Ontario lecturer and former Dow Chemical plant design engineer. While the liquid can absorb heat when exposed to a fire, the gas heats up quickly and increases the pressure inside the tank.

For that reason, the tanks have safety valves, which should release and allow the pressure to be vented out safely. Storage areas also have sprinklers, which are meant to put out fires threatening tanks.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=309153

posted on August 11, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Gas company also involved in 1997 evacuation

By: JOSH WINGROVE
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

Yesterday was not the first time that an incident involving Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases led to an evacuation.

One of the company's trucks flipped over in 1997 while exiting Highway 401 at Kennedy Road. The truck was carrying about 31,000 litres of propane, leading police to evacuate 5,000 residents in nearby apartment buildings.

The truck driver, a 28-year-old man with only a couple of months experience, was charged with careless driving. The company was not deemed responsible for the rollover.

The company stores and sells propane on site. Toronto Fire Division Commander Bob O'Hallarn said a truck driver was in the facility just before the blast.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=309154

posted on August 11, 2008

The Globe And Mail: Firefighter remembered as intelligent, helpful colleague

With a report from Josh Wingrove

By: MATTHEW TREVISAN
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: The Globe And Mail

Bob Leek, Toronto Fire Services district chief of emergency planning, was an accommodating, easygoing and highly intelligent firefighter, and a husband and father, his colleagues said last night.

"He had a very fulfilling career within the Toronto Fire Services ... and will certainly be missed by the department and certainly as a valued member of our association," said Scott Marks, president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters' Association.

Mr. Leek, 55, died yesterday while surveying damage from the active fire at the Sunrise Propane facility. He collapsed without signs of traumatic injuries and was sent to Humber River Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=309526

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe And Mail: Asbestos threat keeps residents from homes

By: TAMSYN BURGMANN
Published: August 11, 2008
Source: Globe And Mail

TORONTO — Shattered glass and charred debris confronted weary residents returning home Monday following a massive propane explosion that transformed a Toronto neighbourhood into a fallout zone and sent thousands fleeing.

With an asbestos threat hanging in the air, one-quarter of the original 1.6-kilometre evacuation zone remained closed as emergency crews dealt with the aftermath of the Sunday's thunderous blast.

At some point before 7 p.m. Monday night, a body was located at the explosion site. Toronto police said the victim hasn't been identified. Also Monday, the City of Toronto launched a review of all areas that could pose a potential hazard to nearby homes. People eager to return home stalled behind police lines, in search of such routine items as fresh clothes and wallets so they could go to work.

Some homes seemed uninhabitable.

Mario Dandrea pulled up in his car Monday morning and was turned away from his house by police.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=703794

posted on August 18, 2008

Globe and Mail: Following massive blaze, Torontonians given all-clear

By: JOSH WINGROVE, TU THANH HA AND MATTHEW TREVISAN
Published: August 10, 2008
Source: Globe and Mail

TORONTO — Boom after boom after boom, the successive blasts rattled homes, blowing doors off their hinges, shattering windows and leaving residents huddled in fear as giant balls of fire burst in the night sky and propane tanks were ejected several kilometres away.

But by Sunday evening, the all-clear has been given to thousands of Toronto residents forced out of their homes.

Acting Deputy Mayor Shelley Carroll said the evacuation has ended and residents will be directed home by police over the next few hours. Where homes have been damaged to the point where residents can't re-enter, residents will be escorted back to the evacuation centre.

“The evacuation centre will remain open overnight to provide accommodation necessary and TTC will provide residents with transportation.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/subscribe.jsp?art=703038

posted on August 11, 2008

Largest Earthquake Drill In U.S. History On Tap For November

Published: August 6, 2008
Source: CPM Group

The magnitude 5.4 earthquake that rocked southern California on July 29 is about 5,000 times smaller than the magnitude 7.8 earthquake depicted in the "ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario."

This new report is a portrayal of what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. The scenario is the basis of the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a week of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history at 10 a.m. on November 13.

Read more >>

posted on August 11, 2008

Hawaii Prepares To Implement State-Wide Emergency Management System

Published: August 1, 2008
Source: CPM Group

21st Century Systems Inc. announced recently that Hawaii State Civil Defense will implement its customized Command Responder software for the conduct of state emergency operating center activities.

HSCD is responsible for state emergency management and homeland security programs and activities. It coordinates emergency response operations among state, county and local emergency management agencies for natural and man-made incidents, including terrorism, from its emergency operating center in Honolulu.

Read more >>

posted on August 11, 2008

DHS Selects ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board To Support Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Certification Program

Published: July 31, 2008
Source: CPM Group

The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that it has signed an agreement with the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to establish and oversee the development and implementation of the accreditation and certification requirements for the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program. This program is directed by Public Law 110-53, Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, requiring the department to establish a common set of criteria for private sector preparedness in disaster management, emergency management and business continuity.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

The Star: Suddenly, safe has never been so scary

By: Rick Westhead, in Foleyet, Ont.
Rob Ferguson, Robert Benzie, in Toronto
Published: May 10, 2008
Source: The Star

FOLEYET, Ont.–Isolating a Via Rail passenger train in this remote Northern Ontario community after one passenger died and others began complaining of flu-like symptoms was not an overreaction, officials say, but the new normal in a post-SARS world.

The emergency measures swung into effect after Via Rail's Train No. 2 from Vancouver was stopped here at about 9 a.m. yesterday, stranding 264 passengers and 30 crew on the third day of its journey from the west.

The move came after health officials received reports of the death and illnesses – evoking memories of the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto that claimed 44 lives and heightened global sensitivity to the threat of infectious disease.

Even after it became apparent that the death and illnesses were unrelated, Ontario's top health official said the response – which saw helicopters, police cars and ambulances descend on the town of about 380 – worked just the way it should. "I'm satisfied the appropriate steps were taken," Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, told a Queen's Park news conference yesterday.

Read More >>

posted on August 11, 2008

Welcome to CPM 2008 EAST

Published: December 18, 2007
Source: CPM Group

Welcome to CPM 2008 EAST
CPM 2008 EAST
November 12 - 14
Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando, FL

CPM is dedicated to the convergence of business continuity/COOP, emergency management and security enabling you to prepare a comprehensive and effective plan to maintain a resilient organization. This leading training event provides you with a complete education in all aspects of risk management and an abundance of networking opportunities with your professional peers.

Read more >>

posted on August 12, 2008

Remember the pandemic threat? (Some) IT planners do

By: Patrick Thibodeau
Published: November 28, 2007
Source: Computerworld

The avian flu has a plot line similar to a Stephen King novel. It's a menacing presence, mysterious and somewhat hidden, striking in out-of-way places and threatening broader havoc -- a global evil. And until this year, it was a best-seller in newsrooms, spurring headlines that raised public attention and spurred organizations to plan for it.

But media interest in the threat of a pandemic has fallen off. In a report this summer about pandemic planning, the White House said that attention to the pandemic has "waned in the media," while "the threat of avian influenza and the potential for an influenza pandemic has not."

The U.S. Government Accountability Office followed up in a report last month, and said the challenge for many organizations is "maintaining a focus on pandemic planning due to the uncertainty of when a pandemic may occur" and the need to address more immediate issues.

Read More >>

posted on August 12, 2008

AP: No one got TB on flights with infected American:officials


This undated photo released by the University of Georgia School
of Law on Thursday May 31, 2007, shows Andrew Speaker at the John Marshall
Law School in Atlanta, Ga. The photo appeared in the Spring/Summer 2003
Advocate, the school magazine.
(University of Georgia School of Law/Associated Press)

Published: November 28, 2007
Source: The Associated Press

Tests of hundreds of airline passengers show that no one caught tuberculosis while flying with an infected American man earlier this year.

Andrew Speaker caused an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding while sick with tuberculosis.

Preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show about 250 passengers aboard the same Air France flight on May 12 have been tested for the disease.

None, including 25 passengers sitting nearest to Speaker, appears to have been infected during the flight. Canadian health officials, who were responsible for investigating Speaker's return flight from the Czech Republic to Montreal on May 24, also found no evidence Speaker spread the disease.

Read More >>

posted on August 12, 2008

CBC: Flu pandemic preparedness hits home for religious leaders

Published: June 21, 2007
Source: CBC News

Members of Canada's religious communities will be called on to provide care in the case of an influenza pandemic and need to know how to protect themselves and others, public health experts say.

Spiritual leaders, scientists and government officials met in Winnipeg Thursday, where they tried to figure out how to mobilize Canada's faith communities safely in the event of an influenza pandemic.

Religious communities will have an important role to play, said Lt.-Col. Irene Strickland, an officer with the Salvation Army who helped lead Scarborough Hospital through an outbreak of SARS in Toronto four years ago.

"We expect that there'll be many people at home that are ill," Strickland said. Volunteers will be needed to deliver food and isolation equipment and to run errands, if people are isolated or quarantined.

Read More >>

posted on August 12, 2008

A Medical Response To Pandemic Flu

By: Avram L. Nemetz, M.D.

A flu pandemic is a potential disaster that will directly affect the health and well-being of a company's most valuable asset, its employees. As such, planning for a flu pandemic must include a medical response.

After all, a company may have a terrific business continuity plan, but without healthy employees to implement it, the plan will be useless.

Goal of a Medical Response

An effective medical response will mitigate the effects that a pandemic will have within any individual company. It will be possible to reduce the number of people who will become ill, help those who are afflicted with the flu to get better and return to work faster, and most importantly reduce the number of employees who would die from influenza.

There are four main areas of focus when implementing a medical response to Pandemic Flu:

  • Reducing/Avoiding Exposure
  • Seasonal Flu Vaccine
  • Pandemic Vaccines
  • Antiviral Medicines

Read More >>


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