Amisk Residents Want Natural Gasoline Moved Away

Railway cars holidng a dangerous product used in the petroleum industry sits on rails near Amisk.
©Provost News Photo.

Residents from the Village of Amisk want railway cars that contain natural gasoline moved away from their community in case an accident results in a fire or explosion.

Approximately 200 people live at Amisk and others are bussed in to the school.

Owner of the product, and president of Quadra Energy Trading Ltd., Patrick Loftus was one of several people invited to a public meeting in the Amisk Hall on Tuesday night, September 17.

The product is stored in sealed railway cars on a siding just north of Highway 13 by Amisk and is being sold to a customer, with one shipment going east of the village and another heading west.

Natural gasoline is used in the petroleum industry, sometimes instead of another product called condensate.

Some residents feel that it is an unsafe situation and an accident could happen when unloading of the product from the eight railway cars is taking place.

The product, Loftus says is similar to condensate though it is not the type people in this area are familiar with. It is manufactured in North Dakota and Texas.

Last year a man died from burns after an explosion and fire in the M.D. of Provost, at a tank farm near Hardisty erupted while condensate was being unloaded.

An Amisk resident, Brad Adams, who lives in the village remembers the accident when he was at the tank farm. He told The News in an interview that the biggest concern at Amisk is the potential for an accident to happen during the off-loading procedure.

He says that the dangerous product is “so close to the community” and that there are environmental issues as well. Adams says that some people claim there is no smell associated with the product but that there is a smell.

He and his wife and six children aged four through 13 years old live one and one half blocks away from the loading area and he is “definitely concerned over their safety.”

“The same potential is here” Adams says, referring to the Hardisty accident. “They were doing the same thing . . . loading condensate. He says that a broken hose on a truck at Amisk could take place and “we’ve got a rodeo in town.”

He wants the loading area moved a mile from Amisk. Adams says he does not have a concern with trucking the product, but it’s the off-loading that concerns him. He adds that 98 percent of the community feels the way he does.

Adams said he was pleased that Quadra Energy Trading Ltd. was receptive to the group at the meeting and “hope they take the views of the village.”

Loftus told The News on September 19 from his Calgary office that the product is safe as it sits and says the railway cars are completely sealed. He compared the storage of it like that of propane purchased in a sealed bottle. Asked if there is a potential for an accident he said that “anytime we handle it there is a potential” but added the same principle can be applied to filling your automobile with gasoline. He adds that “the product does not carry an odour” and suggested that incidents reported when trucks came in had a foul odour from a previous job. Trailers, he says, have since been cleaned and kept only for hauling the natural gasoline. The Calgary company, he says has had no problems in its six year history.

The president said that after the meeting he felt a “little disappointed because we have done everything we can to carry on the business in a very safe manner. We met every regulation there is, and the carrier (Reimer Bulk Systems Inc.) has a terrific track record.”

Loftus says that his company is still open to suggestions as to how the procedure can be made safer. He says they have unloaded 230 cars over the last year, the site is clean and there have been no problems with safety. “If we can work with concerns such as more supervision for example, we can address that.” In the immediate future, he says they have a contract to deliver the product to the customer and “we need to fulfill our obligation.” In the meantime Loftus says that they will look at different sites with concerns expressed—and economics in mind. “We are not ignoring concerns but there is no second solution at this point . . . but we are trying to find one.”

Loftus says that they did consider a site at Cadogan and that some people were opposed to them using the site there. “Once we visited the site we did not like it either.” Other than Amisk or Cadogan no other communities were approached.

Federal permits are required to store and transport the natural gasoline. The product, according to Loftus is very difficult to heat up to explode and says that if it was ignited there would be more of a problem with burning, than an explosion. The natural gasoline burns quickly.

Adams says that if the company does not move its operation away that he hopes to have a municipal by-law passed to force the move.

Provost News: Who called the meeting in Amisk?
Patrick Loftus: The village council wanted to meet over the product and operation.
PN: Why do you think you are now seeing opposition to the operation?
PL: I think part of the problem is that many didn’t know the operation was even going on.
PN: Do you have a legal or moral obligation to move the product?
PL: No; but we have a moral obligation to go in and make sure we meet safety issues that the village has. If it is possible to move the product away, we will investigate that.
PN: What is Quadra Energy Trading Ltd.?
PL: We are buyers and sellers of petroleum products with 17 employees who represent about 300 years of experience.
PN: Any past problems in your company with safety.
PL: There is no history of safety problems.
PN: Other comments?
PL: We really want to recognize that the residents have a genuine concern and we want to do our best to come to some kind of solution that will work for everyone.

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