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Alma residents fight proposed underground propane storage site

'A lot of people in Alma had no idea this was going on until this newsletter was dropped off at people’s houses last Tuesday'

ALMA – A group of Alma residents have formed a committee to express their staunch opposition to a proposed underground propane facility in the small town.

Concerned Citizens of Alma (CCA) are bringing attention to a project proposed by Core Fuels at 6976 Wellington Rd. 7 that would see four large propane tanks stored underground. The total volume of the four tanks would be almost one million litres.

Mapleton council will need to approve a zoning amendment to allow for bulk fuel storage which will be used as a distribution point.

Amanda Reid, a member of the CCA, said their action is to address a potential danger to the residential hamlet and to inform citizens about this proposal.

“A lot of people in Alma had no idea this was going on until this newsletter was dropped off at people’s houses last Tuesday,” Reid said. “It wasn’t very well advertised, for a lack of a better word, to the community.”

A major concern of the CCA is the potential for an explosion similar to Toronto’s Sunrise Propane explosion in summer 2008. In that incident, a series of explosions took place caused by an illegal truck-to-truck transfer. The explosions and ensuing clean-up caused two deaths, nearly $2 million in damages and displaced nearby residents from their homes.

Reid acknowledged that this proposed storage is different from Sunrise’s above-ground storage but insists that the risks are still there.

“With Sunrise Propane, it was a human error of a transfer to a truck that caused a fire and that’s exactly the type of thing that is going to be happening within 300 metres or less from houses,” Reid said. 

If there is a fire, Reid said there is worry if their volunteer fire hall would be prepared for such an incident in a town without fire hydrants.

They also have an issue with the risk contours provided in a previous council agenda. Reid said this was not done by an engineer and is a google maps drawing they created their contours on. 

“This facility is supposed to be the first in Ontario and possibly Canada,” Reid said. “How do we know the risk assessment is even accurate?”

Reid said they overall feel this development is not right for Alma and not enough information has been provided.

A representative from Core Fuels in Alma said concerns will be addressed at a public meeting on Sept. 8 but declined further comment for this story.

CCA will also be at the September meeting as a delegation. Reid said they want council to not approve the change in zoning.

“We are asking that any resident whether they’re in Alma or Mapleton’s surrounding area, bring your concerns to council and our mayor,” Reid said. “Even send something to the deputy clerk to be read at the council meeting.”

The CCA asks any of their supporters to go to the meeting and stand in solidarity with them on this issue. Reid also encouraged people to email the group with any concerns.

The rezoning for Core Fuels will be considered at a council meeting on Sept. 8 starting at 7 p.m.