Windsor West MP Brian Masse speaks during a news conference regarding safety concerns at Sterling Fuels in Windsor March 13, 2017. He is joined by Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo, left of Masse, Windsor Ward 2 Coun. John Elliott and Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky, right of Masse, and Unifor members.
Local politicians and labour leaders are calling on senior levels of government to step in quickly to address safety and environmental concerns at Sterling Fuels in Windsor, which has received 32 orders from Windsor Fire & Rescue.
The oil, fuel and asphalt-storage company’s facility is located along the Detroit River off of Sandwich Street behind a convenience store and backyards of homes.
Sterling Fuels has 30 days to comply to some of the orders and 60 days to comply to others, but Windsor West MP Brian Masse said it’s possible to force these changes earlier.
“The actions should be taking place now,” said the NDP member during a Monday morning news conference. “The minister of transport has the ability to act now and we expect nothing less of that.”
Masse penned a letter to Minister Marc Garneau discussing “significant spills on site” which allegedly “occur with an alarming degree of regularity.” He is calling for a “comprehensive and publicly inclusive environmental and public safety risk assessment” of the company.
The full list of orders has not been made public. Joel Gardner, corporate health, safety and environmental manager for the company, said the orders with a 60-day deadline relate to a fire contingency plan and the 30-day orders involve what he calls “minor issues.”
The one example Gardner provided, which falls under the 30-day deadline, was an order to ensure fire extinguishers have plastic covers and that they are checked regularly.
“We’ve hired an engineering firm that was recommended by the Windsor Fire department to come in and help assist with getting all of that together for everybody,” he said in an interview.
Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo, who represents 17 unionized workers during peak season at the facility, said he takes an issue with the company referring to any part of this as “minor.”
He said with approximately 23 million litres of product on site, the situation could be worse than the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, which caused 47 deaths, if a fire started.