Coroner investigates after body found at blast site
Published Tuesday, August 12, 2008 6:42PM EDT
Coroner's officials in Toronto were at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases on Tuesday, investigating the discovery of a body at the site of this weekend's massive explosions.
Investigators haven't identified the body, but officials have been searching for a missing employee at the propane facility where the fire erupted.
Parminder Saini, who works for Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases, has been missing since early Sunday. The Canadian Press reported that a witness has told police an employee ran toward the explosion.
Toronto Mayor David Miller held a news conference Tuesday morning where he offered his condolences to the family of the victim.
Miller, who was joined by emergency officials, also said his staff is now working with the province to make sure another similar disaster doesn't occur. He restated his call for a zoning review of propane facilities.
He said he wants the review to outline what options the city has legally and what "we need to do to ensure people are safe."
Miller also said he wants an initial report on "measures we can take as quickly as possible."
The final report on the explosion and its aftermath won't be ready for several months, Miller had said earlier.
Although most residents have been allowed to return home, about 100 homes that were in the path of the explosions remain uninhabitable. Emergency officials say they've detected asbestos, which can be a health hazard if it's airborne.
Local residents, some of whose homes were metres from the propane explosions, vented their frustrations and worried about their safety.
"How are they going to clean that up?" one resident concerned about asbestos asked.
The Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases facility, which was the epicentre of a series of explosions early Sunday morning, was completely destroyed by blasts that rocked neighbourhoods kilometres away. The explosions forced the temporary evacuation of hundreds from homes in a 1.6-kilometre area.
Regulations on propane need overhaul: critics
The Sunrise Propane facility underwent at least one safety inspection nearly three years ago just before it opened for business. Sources tell CTV Toronto another inspection was scheduled for this fall.
However, the independent body in charge of those inspections, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, refuses to say whether the facility had any problems or violations.
"At this point, the investigation is so early on that I'm reluctant to put out information that could be premature and impact on any enforcement or any investigation activities that we may carry out," the TSSA's John Marshall told CTV Toronto on Tuesday.
Marshall says the organization is confident in their policy of sending an inspector once every three years. Safety advocates, however, disagree.
"Clearly, the three-year inspection standard that they've established is woefully inadequate and has placed everyone in this province at risk," said Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League.
Miller also said inspections should be done more regularly.
"From my perspective, it's not adequate to inspect a facility like this every three years," he said. "Suppose the operator doesn't operate to the highest standards, how are you going to find that out?"
The mayor also said the Ontario government should take over control of the TSSA.
The province's consumer minister said he is also having trouble getting answers from the organization.
"What I really want to know right now is how many of these facilities are in populated areas or near schools, and we also want to know what the status of the inspections of these facilities are," Harinder Takhar said.
CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness reported there are seven propane sites in Toronto similar to Sunrise Propane, but the TSSA won't disclose where they are.
Also, there are about 150 such propane fill-up facilities across the province.
The TSSA, meanwhile, says it's not reviewing its policies.
Six people were sent to hospital after Sunday's blasts, 18 people admitted themselves to an emergency clinic and that Emergency Medical Services responded to 40 people on the site.
Police have extended the hours at the staging area at Ancaster Public School for returning residents until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Click here for a list of the address affected.
Anyone who arrives after 8 p.m. is asked to attend the Toronto Police Service Command Vehicle located at Murray and Katherine Roads.
One firefighter was killed fighting fires in the aftermath of the explosions. Flags flew at half staff at fire halls around Toronto Tuesday in the memory of District Chief Bob Leek.
Church services and dedications for the fallen firefighter include:
- A Tuesday night mass at St. Norberts Church on Regent Road at 7 p.m.
- Visitation hours at De Marco Funeral Home on Keele St. on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
- A funeral service on Friday at the Prayer Palace on Arrow Road with full fire service honours at 11 a.m.
With reports from CTV Toronto's Galit Solomon, Naomi Parness and Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press