*As more questions arise from the community we will update this FAQ.
- How long have these problems been going on at Sterling Fuels?
- Why has it taken so long for the union to step in and do something?
- Why did the workers continue to work under these conditions, couldn’t they refuse under the Health and Safety Act?
- Brian Masse said it was ‘Our’ land in his interviews, what did he mean by that?
- The Union President, Dino Chiodo likened this facility to a ‘Lac Magentic Quebec’ style disaster waiting to happen, isn’t that grandstanding and fear mongering?
- What orders have been made against this company?
- What happens next?
- What happens if the deadlines come and go and the work isn’t complete?
- What is the environmental impact on the region if any?
- What kinds of products are housed at the facility?
The issues that are being faced at Sterling Fuels have been being addressed for the past 3 – 4 years. Some issues are older than others as would be expected and some are more recent in nature.
Actually, Local 444 has been talking with the company for a very long time trying to find resolves to the various situations at the facility. The goal of the union is never to cause undue hardship on a company it represents; the leadership has been working with the people of Sterling Fuels trying to resolve the issues. The company would constantly put forth a deadline and then miss it and in the interest of the membership talks would continue. There are also very strict guidelines on filing a formal complaint under the different ministries affected and those timelines needed to be honoured.
Why did the workers continue to work under these conditions, couldn’t they refuse under the Health and Safety Act?
The short answer is yes, the workers could have refused to work under these conditions under the Canada Labour Code which they fall under for jurisdictional purposes being housed on federal land. In fact, at different times, specific jobs were refused by workers until their safety could be ensured. However, it is hard to fathom how hard it is for a worker to potentially put their job on the line when working for an employer that treats them the way that Sterling Fuels does in regard to Health and Safety. The workers at this facility are put in harm’s way just by showing up to work every day.
The land is owned by the Federal Government and under the management of the Port Authority. Since the people of Windsor are taxpayers the land ownership technically belongs to all of us. All Federal lands are owned by all Canadians and must be treated as such.
The Union President, Dino Chiodo likened this facility to a ‘Lac Magentic Quebec’ style disaster waiting to happen, isn’t that grandstanding and fear mongering?
Absolutely not, there are a lot of similarities in the kind of devastation that could be brought from a disaster at a facility like Sterling Fuels. In fact, the impact would have the potential to be a lot worse. Since there is no Fire Plan in place, the Fire Department would have no way to get on site and extinguish any fire that occurred. As well, the Lac Magentic disaster was due to oil tankers that were hauling approximately 1.8 million gallons of flammable liquids in 72 rail cars. The Sterling Fuels site at its peak will hold somewhere in the ballpark of 23 million gallons of products, most, all of which are highly flammable and toxic. 47 people were killed in Lac Magentic and almost half the town was destroyed by fire another 30 plus buildings were marked for demolition due to petroleum contamination in the soil, this is a real threat and we cannot let it happen in Windsor Ontario.
To date the Windsor Fire Department has levied a total of 32 work orders that must be complied with as well the TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) has levied at least 5 orders and multiple other agencies have yet to lay their orders.
Sterling Fuels has until April 3rd on some of the orders to comply and until May 5th on some of the others at this point. Any further orders to come from an agency will have similar timelines put into place.
Although Sterling Fuels has until the specified dates to comply, Local 444 needs to keep the safety of its members and the surrounding community first and foremost in their actions. The appropriate response will follow if the orders are not met.
Environmentally speaking there is a grave concern for the surrounding area. There has been endangered wildlife species identified in the area and with the level of spills and contamination it should be of concern to the neighbouring community and anyone that wishes to protect our environment.
At any given time there may be a number of hazardous materials stored in the west Windsor neighbourhood at the Sterling Fuels site. The truth of the matter is it is very difficult to exactly pinpoint the materials as the tanks have not been properly labeled indicating what they hold. This is one of the orders placed against Sterling Fuels by the Windsor Fire Department. We can say that Asphalt, Diesel Fuel, Petroleum, and Bunker Oil, just to name a few are regularly stored at the facility.