Thirty Five Reports and Counting

I have made thirty five reports to the Ministry of the Environment about gas vapours on my property during a tanker refill. No government entity has done testing of any kind to QUANTIFY the amount of vapours that are released during a typical fill.

The vent pipes have no monitoring apparatus whatsoever. Is the system functioning properly ? There’s no data. When I first complained to the TSSA, within weeks of the newly renovated station opening, they sent a representative to investigate my complaint. The same TSSA employee who APPROVED moving the vent location from the least offensive area on the property (next to a factory’s parking lot)to the present location, within approximately 30 feet or less of most on my windows and all my doors ! And the vent for my high efficiency furnace. They are 4 feet from the property line ! He inspected his own work ! And what did he use to inspect his own work, and the amount of vapours released during a tanker fill ? HIS NOSE ! That’s it !

MY nose said that the amount of uncombusted gas vapours on my property was excessive. This wasn’t a slight whiff. This was an eye burning amount. Tanker fills happen twice a week. 52 weeks x 2 = 104 fills per year. When there is a west, north or northwest wind the vapours get blown into my yard, and frequently seep into my house. When the tanker driver is (illegally) doing a fill without the vapour control hose connected, and there is a strong wind, my house – with all the doors and windows closed – with most of the windows having storm windows – can STINK like gas vapours for over two hours. In three years since the station opened (July 1, 2018) that would be 312 fills. Therefore – the large volume of emissions enter my property more than ten percent of the time ! These are just the infiltrations I have experienced, and don’t include the ones that have surely happened when I was at work, or doing errands.

During a fill, the gas vapours that come from the vent pipes are visible wavy lines. Gas molecules are heavier than air so they sink. What happens when the gas vapours come from the vent pipes, and get blown into my yard which is about 48″ lower ? They get trapped by my fence and trees and remain undissipated for a LONG time. The concentration is frankly horrifying to experience in the yard, as I have, when I have been near to the ground, gardening. It’s lucky I am not a smoker ! Not only are the vapours highly carcinogenic, they are also volatile and extremely explosive.

There’s no filters of any kind on the vent pipes either, just a sort of cover which probably prevents rain and snow from falling into the vent pipes/storage tank.

I somehow persuaded a (newly hired I think) representative from the Ministry of the Environment to visit my location to better understand my complaints (early October, 2020). He seemed sort of appalled by actually SEEING my lower elevation, the vent pipe location, fence location, etc. The geography I described was accurate, and an obvious negative issue.

The theory of the vent pipes is that during a tanker fill, vapours in the storage tank are displaced. The vapour recovery system is an extremely primitive arrangement with no blowers or vacuum or anything. The vapours are just supposed to meander from from the underground tank, through a narrow floppy hose, back to the tanker truck. Despite the different types of fuel released during a fill, there is only ONE vapour recovery hose in use – not one per tanker compartment. The vapours can allegedly be reclaimed and made into liquid fuel again. When there is excessive pressure, the vapours are released from the vent pipes. From my observation, during tanker fills, no matter the wind direction, VAPOURS ARE VISIBLY RELEASED 100% OF THE TIME.

Professionally designed stations locate the vent pipes near a busy intersection. The theory is that the traffic motion helps to dissipate the vapours.

Yet there is no intersection or traffic in my yard, of any kind ! My street is a narrow residential street with a few heavy truck deliveries to the tile business on the corner.

Anyhow – the M.O.E. representative said that he would arrange to witness a fill, preferably with the station owner present. I contacted him numerous times, as he said he would also like to covertly observe. Yet he was never available. Then more COVID19 restrictions waxed and waned. No tanker fills were ever observed.

Finally, in July 2021 I spotted him next door observing a fill. With no station owner present. Nine months after he first visited my location…

Tanker drivers are pretty lax about following 100% of the code when unobserved. When they are under observation they follow all the procedures. Basically this is setting up pylons around them, with striped safety bar things to delineate their working boundaries. Under observation, the flexible hose used for the fills gets emptied into a bucket instead of dumped on the ground. These procedures do nothing except give the illusion of safety FOR THE TANKER DRIVER ONLY.

FSA /8c32000/8c321008c32173a.tif

This image from 1942 shows a tanker fill. Basically the set up is UNCHANGED. The apparatus for the fill is only located on the right side of the truck. There are couplers that connect to the covered portals to the underground storage tank. Before the driver does a fill he uses a GIANT WOODEN DIPSTICK, at least 10 feet long, printed in inches, which is inserted into the storage tanks to assess the level of gas below. This is extremely primitive technology. You would think by now that there would be efficient, computerized gauges which could accurately document the levels of gasoline, and the volume of gasoline vapour released during a fill.

Anyhow – the M.O.E. representative observed me observing him observing the fill and came over to speak with me afterwards. There was the typical discussion. I said that he really needed to observe a fill from my yard, so he could better understand the huge amount of vapours that are released, then settle.

We had previously discussed the use of a FLIR camera. The FLIR camera makes vapours visible during recording. Gas vapours appear as a dark smoke. I said he really needed to record this to assess HOW much vapour is released during a typical fill. He said he didn’t need to use this because he could SEE the vapours.

But with no data about the actual volume of the vapours released during a typical fill how can anyone assess the severity of the problem ?

John Water’s film, Polyester (1980) was innovative, filmed in “Odorama”. The main character, Francine Fishpaw (Divine) has an incredible sense of smell. Viewers were given scratch and sniff cards, and the film would prompt viewers with a number to see which section they should scratch and sniff during certain scenes !

Forty one years later, it shocks me that my situation, in which I am chronically exposed to a dangerous level of volatile and carcinogenic vapours, has the same level of absurdity as a John Waters film !

There’s no data so no one can enforce anything ! There’s no code which actually addresses a residence in proximity to a commercial gas station, so no code is being broken ! Except for the Ontario Environmental Protection Act. But since there’s no data so no one knows how BADLY the Act is being violated !

Government representatives are relying on their sense of smell to assess the situation. Insane.

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