Winnipeg plant didn’t have proper permit to store biofuel

An Oct. 1 fire at a biodiesel, racing car methanol and windshield washer fluid manufacturer caused more than $15 million in damage.

November 21, 2012   by The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG—A fuel plant where an intense October fire led to hundreds of evacuations and caused more than $15 million in damages didn’t have a permit to store biofuel.

Deputy fire chief Bill Clark told a radio station (CJOB) that Speedway International received a permit in 2000 for a windshield washer manufacturing plant.

A fire inspection followed in 2001.

He says Speedway didn’t apply for a new permit—as it should have—when the warehouse began to store biofuel.

No further fire inspections were done at the St. Boniface plant because they weren’t mandatory.

St. Boniface city Coun. Dan Vandal says such inspections should be done annually.

“It’s totally unacceptable,” he said. “We’re fortunate that nobody died in this incident. Somewhere along the line the whole process is deficient, it’s dangerous and we need to change it.”

The report, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information, also says the plant didn’t have a safety plan approved by the fire department. Firefighters who responded to last month’s blaze didn’t know the type or quantity of hazardous materials they were dealing with.

The Manitoba fire commissioner’s office has ruled that spontaneous combustion in an oily substance sparked the fire at the business, which produced biodiesel, racing car methanol and windshield washer fluid.

Speedway International has said that it was federally licensed, had complied with all regulatory safety standards and codes and that no human error, equipment failure or negligence contributed to the fire.

©The Canadian Press

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