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Safety authority responds to gas station closure story

SooToday.com has received the following letter to the editor from Technical Standards and Safety Authority Director of Fuels Safety Program John Marshall, in response to a story published last week.
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SooToday.com has received the following letter to the editor from Technical Standards and Safety Authority Director of Fuels Safety Program John Marshall,  in response to a story published last week.
 
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To the Editor:
 
Last week’s article “Too late to save Heyden gas station, says owner” provided a very lop-sided version of events that led to the closing of the Leeside Service Plus gas station in Heyden. 
 
The article left the unfortunate impression that the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) acted in an unreasonable manner by issuing orders that abruptly forced the station to close in the middle of the winter when upgrades to the facility couldn’t be completed. 
 
TSSA has worked with the owners of Leeside Service Plus for well over a year, being flexible and reasonable in order to allow them to bring the gas station into compliance with Ontario’s safety regulations, which protect the public and workers, as well as the environment.
 
The station underwent a routine inspection following a change in ownership in December 2012.
 
A number of orders were issued with 90 days given to comply by March 2013.  
 
When the owners requested additional time to comply, TSSA responded positively by extending compliance times first to April 2013 and then to July 2013. 
 
Based on the owners ongoing efforts to follow the safety rules, TSSA again extended compliance times, this time to January 2014.
 
TSSA’s preferred approach is to work with owners to get their facilities into compliance.
 
TSSA is sensitive to the challenges of operating a small business in northern Ontario and applies a high degree of flexibility to take into consideration the long winters and the shortage of fuel contractors in remote communities.
 
TSSA inspectors live in the communities in which they work and so know first-hand the unique conditions in northern Ontario.
 
In this instance, TSSA provided a full year for the owners to do the necessary upgrades of the gas station to be compliant with Ontario’s safety laws.
 
In January 2014 the owners of Leeside Service Plus advised TSSA that they would not be able to complete the necessary upgrades of the facility and that they intended to cease operations.
 
At that time, 13 months after the safety orders were first issued, TSSA ordered a shutdown of the facility to ensure both public and environmental safety. 
 
The owners of Leeside Service Plus have clearly gone through difficult times and while TSSA is sympathetic, when a gas station owner is unable or unwilling to come into compliance, TSSA has little choice but to enforce Ontario’s safety laws.
 
Owning and operating a gas station comes with many challenges and responsibilities and as Ontario’s public safety regulator, we can help.
 
Just call us and we’ll explain the regulatory requirements and provide an inspection history of the facility to help in the decision process.
 
John Marshall
Director, Fuels Safety Program
 
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