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This letter was sent by the Emergency Planning Officer, E.A. Fallen, shortly after dealing with a a transport truck leaking a highly toxic substance on the highway. The leak was contained, but the lack of regulations around transportation of hazardous materials made the situation more challenging than it should have been.


First page of letter regarding trichloroethylene leak


"Mr. Tom Fell, Director
Engineering & Operations


The following is a report on my involvement in the leaking trichloroethylene incident on 4 March 1981.


At approximately 1430 I received a telephone call from Captain Bill Godfrey, Thunder Bay Fire Department that a Kingsway Trailer truck was leaking a liquid at the Ministry of Transportation and Communication Weigh Scale on Highway 11-17 just west of the City and that the Bill of Lading indicated it was a chemical called Triluxe Electronic. The shipment originated at Canadian Industries Limited in Montreal and was destined for Winnipeg.


I attempted to identify the chemical through the Emergency Response Guide for Hazardous Goods but it was not listed. I phoned the Dangerous Goods and Information Centre in Ottawa and have what information we had obtained to a Mr. Cloutier. He advised he would return my call as quickly as possible.


Within a few moments, I received a call from Mr. Cloutier and participated in a 3-way conversation with a Mr. Germain, CI.L. Montreal and Mr. Cloutier. Mr. Germian informed me the chemical was trichloroethylene, was highly toxic, 4.5 times heavier than air, non-flammable and that self contained breathing apparatus and protective clothing was to be worn. This information was immediately passed to Captain Godfrey and Captain Mill of the Thunder Bay Fire Department.


Mr. Germain continued and advised the liquid was to be covered with absorbent material and later be disposed of in sealed barrels, and that the leaking barrels were to be placed in sealed 55 gallon drums and returned to point of departure. He further advised he would attempt to locate some 55 gallon drums close to Thunder Bay.


I contacted the operator of the weigh scale and advised him to keep everyone from the vehicle until we arrived.


My secretary contacted the Ministry of the Environment to inform them of the spill and requested one of the officials meet me at the scale.


I contacted the Fire Chief and passed al the information to him. He dispatched Captain Mill and Captain Godfrey to the scale with self contained breathing apparatus to see if there were any further markings on the barrel.


I then picked up some extra breathing apparatus from the Fire Department and some absorbent material from the Public Works Yard south and proceeded to the weigh scale."

 Second page of letter regarding trichloroethylene leak


"On arrival, I conferred with Captain Mill and Godfrey who then returned to the City as the Paipoonge Fire Department had arrived and taken over responsibility as it was in their Township.


Mr. J. Drummond, Ministry of the Environment arrived and we attempted to locate 55 gallon containers in Thunder Bay. It was also ascertained that a second barrel was leaking.


As we were unable to locate 55 gallon drums locally, I contacted the Dangerous Goods Centre and requested they contact Mr. Germain at C.I.L. to obtain 55 gallon drums and ship them to Kingsway Transport in Thunder Bay.


At this time, Mr. Serwicki, Kingsway’s local manager arrived and he was briefed. As the drums had stopped leaking and there was nothing else I could accomplish, the incident was turned over to Environment and Kingsway Transport who are responsible for the cleanup operations.


My final involvement was at approximately 2130 when I received a call from Mr. Gowanlock of Canadian Industries Limited, Winnipeg to advise he had two 55 gallon drums in Winnipeg and was shipping them to Kingsway as requested by C.I.L. Montreal and the Dangerous Goods Centre in Ottawa.


I passed the information on the drums to Mr. Serwicki of Kingsway at approximately 2145.


This evolution proved the Dangerous Goods and Information Centre was a valuable source of information and could provide assistance and answers on short notice.


It also pointed out that there is an urgent requirement for regulations covering the transportation of Hazardous Goods by provincial highway.


This shipment contained sixty 45 gallon drums for a total of 2700 gallons and yet no Hazardous Goods placard was affixed to the trailer or visible on the drums from outside the trailer.


According to the Ministry of the Environment officials, the drums should have been a heavier guage. It is also possible the use of padding between the barrels would have prevented the leakage.


It was fortunate that this trailer unit was not involved in an accident as the spillage could have had more serious consequences. In this case, the driver, although he only spoke French, was able to provide a Bill of Lading which gave us the required information to identify the chemical and take the necessary safety action.


I would strongly recommend that City Council consider a resolution requesting the Provincial Government to quickly pass the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act 1980."


Last page of letter regarding trichloroethylene leak


"That was introduced by Mr. Snow in November 1980 to promote the safe transportation, including the packaging and placarding, of Dangerous Goods in all vehicles using provincial highways.


Respectfully submitted,


E.A. Fallen
Emergency Planning Officer"