Local 444 statement regarding Sterling Fuels
On Monday, February 27th, 2017 Local 444 President, Dino Chiodo, Vice President, Mike D’Agnolo and Chairperson, Mike Merry filed a formal complaint against Local 444 represented workplace Sterling Fuels. Sterling Fuels has since had 32 orders to comply filed against it from the Windsor Fire Department, five orders from the TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) and multiple expected orders from some other ministries of Government.
“This is federal land (managed by the Port Authority) that this corporation sits on therefore this is public land which means it is your land!”
~ Brian Masse, M.P. Windsor West
In part, the ‘filed’ complaint touched on various aspects of concern for the Health and Safety of the employees that work at the facility as well as the safety and potential impact on the surrounding community if a catastrophic issue was to arise.
In part the concerns raised were:
a) As of the date of complaint filing there was still no Fire Safety plan put into place.
The above issue was raised with Sterling Fuels on many occasions by Local 444 Representatives, and the company assured that a plan was in the works and would be brought forward. To date, Windsor Fire has not accepted any plans for Sterling Fuels for Fire Safety, which would include a safe way for Windsor Fire to have heavy equipment on the property in the event of an emergency. This means that if a fire were to break out today on the property, the Windsor Fire Department would NOT be able to bring their fire engines onto the property to battle any potential blaze that occurred.
b) Contractors have been required to weld on the large fuel tanks in a facility that has had various fuels, compounds, and flammable products leak creating a real potential for major incident.
Contractors have performed welding work on and around tanks where unknown substances have been known to ‘pool’ and could create a grave safety concern if said materials were to ignite. The Employer has no plan in place as to how to address these severe safety concerns.
c) There is no ‘Rescue at Heights’ plan in place.
A ‘Rescue at Heights’ plan would entail having a contingency in place were an employee to suffer some debilitating injury or even have a personal health crisis while on top of one of the tanks performing maintenance. There is no buddy system in place, and often workers are expected to be on top of the tanks working alone where it could be quite some time before someone realizes they are in need.
d) Hazmat information is not readily available to first responders.
If a catastrophic safety concern was to happen there is, at the time of filing this complaint, no viable, reasonable way for first responders to immediately know what substances are on the property and where they are located. As if not enough, the first responders would have to search out the substance hazmat information instead of it being readily available for them upon entry to the property.
e) Sterling Fuels has no “Water Rescue Plan’ in place.
This company fuels large tanker ships on a regular basis, and while doing so, its employees are subjected to situations where real dangers exist. One potential hazard is falling into the Detroit River while working to fuel the ships. If this were to happen, the current ‘plan’ would be to call Lasalle to use their services. However, this has been likened to more of a recovery effort than a rescue plan. A rescue plan entails by its very name to rescue without harm or at least before death could occur but a recovery plan by its very nature does not mean the same thing.
f) Environment not being protected.
There are endangered species of wildlife that exist on and around this property that is being affected by the constant leaks that go unchecked or not cleaned up properly.
These are just a few of the major concerns that have been brought forward on an ongoing basis by the union to the company for a number of years. It is only now that Local 444 has filed this formal complaint with the appropriate ministries that these orders have been placed against Sterling Fuels.
The potential for disaster is enormous, and the surrounding community could very well be negatively affected in epic proportions by an occurrence at this facility.
“One only has to think of what happened in Lac Megantic Quebec to know the real threat of disaster we may be facing here!”
~ Dino Chiodo, President, Unifor Local 444