Workers cleaning up asbestos debris vacuum the parking lot of the Ancaster Community Centre on Wednesday evening. (Mike Crawley/CBC) The City of Toronto is taking over responsibility for the cleanup of properties around the site of last weekend’s huge propane explosion, effective Saturday, the city announced Friday night.
Ontario’s Environment Ministry issued an order to Sunrise Propane on Wednesday to clean up the blast site and the surrounding area.
The City of Toronto said that as of Friday, the requirements of the order for off-site work had not been met and the Environment Ministry had received no assurances that the work will be done “in a timely way.”
The city said it was using its powers under the Environmental Protection Act to start its own cleanup of the residential area and to ensure the work is completed as soon as possible.
“We had hoped [Sunrise Propane] would comply with the MOE order and clean up the exterior of the properties,” acting deputy mayor Shelley Carroll said in a release.
“At this time, it’s critical for the city to do whatever is necessary so that these residents can resume some sense of normalcy in their neighbourhood after this traumatic event,” Carroll said. “Cleaning up the asbestos and debris from the explosion is an important part of making that happen.”
Cleanup a ‘priority’
The city’s action came a day after angry residents turned out for two meetings to demand answers to how the propane facility came to be located in their neighbourhood and the dangers posed by asbestos strewn around the area.
The provincial government said it supported the city’s decision to step in.
“The province’s priority is to get the cleanup of the residential properties done quickly, safely and effectively. We have been in discussions with the City of Toronto throughout the day, and we fully support this action,” said Environment Minister John Gerretsen.
The city said it has secured licensed professional environmental cleanup and disposal crews and will have 100 to 120 workers handling the job. Officials said crews working on the cleanup of asbestos will wear protective equipment, as required by Ontario law.
Work will start Saturday on Murray Road before moving to Plewes Road, then south to homes on the north side of Regent Road and east to Beffort Road, the city said.
Officials said Toronto Fire Services and city staff will be going door-to-door to give residents approximately 24 hours notice before their properties are cleaned up.