Smoke starting to clear around Sunrise Propane blast, two years later

Smoke starting to clear around Sunrise Propane blast, two years later

A fire rages at Sunrise Propane at Wilson Avenue and Keele Street just after an explosion on August 10, 2008 (Image: Michael Gil) 

Some of the fog surrounding the Sunrise Propane blast that rocked Toronto almost two years ago is starting to clear now that a report on the explosion by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office has been obtained by the press. The news is not terribly surprising, at least according to the CBC. Turns out that when something goes horribly wrong, someone has done something horribly wrong.

The report says an illegal “tank-to-tank transfer was in progress at the time of the accident” and a propane leak resulted from a hose failure.

About six minutes before the explosion, the leaked liquid propane turned to vapour, the report says. That vapour cloud ignited, but the investigators said they don’t know the exact cause.

“This explosion and fire will be classified as accidental — mechanical failure,” the report concludes.

Not to be glib about a real tragedy—two people were killed in the blast and ensuing fire—but with a class-action lawsuit being prepared against Sunrise Propane, this is probably not the kind of news they need before heading in to court. The National Post quotes city councillor Maria Augimeri as blaming the provincial government for its “failure to assure community safety,” and calling for major regulation of the propane industry. The report agrees, calling for changes in regulations regarding safety requirements and siting of large facilities like Sunrise.

That’s what the future might hold, but it’s interesting to note that the explosion has already had a lasting effect in the city. Augimeri has used the spectre of unsafe fuel-handling to oppose a rule change meant to speed up the construction of the Spadina subway extension. In July, she told the rest of council that they would have “blood on their hands” if they allowed a tunnel to be built beneath Keele St. and Finch Ave.

• Sunrise Propane blast spark still a mystery [CBC News]
• Confidential report: Sunrise Propane blast possibly caused by gas hose leak [National Post]
• Sunrise Propane was told to stop liquid gas transfers two years before fatal blast [Globe and Mail]
• Sunrise blast caused by illegal ‘tank-to-tank transfer,’ report says [Toronto Star]