The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on December 7, 1979 · 3
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 3

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Friday, December 7, 1979
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Firms fear shortage of oil for homes here By Kit Collins Citizen staff writer Local oil suppliers said today they fear any substantial increase in the demand for home heating oil this winter could lead to shortages. "There's no oil to spare and no oil to waste," one oil company spokesman said. Local independent suppliers are "touchy," because 'they know there are no large reserve supplies on hand. Worse, both independent and multinational oil suppliers said any shortfall of home heating oil supplies would affect local consumers across the area in March, the coldest month of the year. A spokesman for Gulf Oil in Toronto predicted that Ottawa area supplies will fare no better or worse than other areas in the country. Although oil consumption in the Ottawa area has decreased, overall predictions that demand for oil would fall two per cent this year failed to materialize and there has been a hefty increase in national de mand, particularly on the east coast, Gulf spokemen said. Locally, Mo Harkin, president of the Ottawa Oil Heating Association, said the oil situation is so uncertain, "I'd rather not comment. There are too many conflicting reports" on the availability of supplies, he The 22 fuel suppliers in the Ottawa area say they have been assured, however, "there are reasonable supplies on hand." One spokesman for Francis Fuels, one of the biggest independent home heating oil suppliers in Ottawa, conceded the last thing any supplier would do now is predict they do not have enough supplies to meet demand. It is npt good business sense, he said. Brian Bunting, general manager for Shell Canada, dismissed out of hand the federal government's prediction Canada may run short of oil this winter. - "I don't know whom they are talking about, but they aren't talking about Shell Oil," he said. The federal government predicted Thursday there .--Hi .v ,i.iasiWBrai...' ' f7 ft A T-i' V- I 1 1 i U 5 in Mike Finder, Citizen Ontario industrial safety offficer Gerry St. Michael looks into Met store's ventilation system Open furnace doors blamed By Tony Cote Citizen staff writer Improper furnace conditions at the Metropolitan Store at 80 Rideau St. existed for at least a month before toxic gases accumulated to levels that sent 21 people to hospital Thursday, officials say. An investigation has found that three small doors on a furnace air unit were propped open, allowing carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases to pollute air in the store's main sales area. Ottawa Gas operations manager John Graham said tests this morning confirmed that carbon monoxide was the cause of the symptons the victims suffered. Graham also said that a buildup of carbon in the furnace and in the chimney, while in themselves not a problem, were a contributing factor. Work crews are cleaning out the furnace and making repairs to the chimney. Met store officias have installed a security chain in front of the doors that have been left open for the last month to ensure they are not left open again. The store was open today. Ottawa Gas service manager Jim Larkin and a team of investigators discovered what they believed to be the flaw within two hours of the incident. "The make-up air heater was robbing the air from Drivers angry ambulances lack equipment Ambulance drivers who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after taking victims of a gas leak to hospital Thursday say the province isn't giving them the equipment needed to do their job safely. The drivers are angry that their vehicles aren't equipped with gas masks or backpacks with oxygen tanks. Six drivers suffered dizziness, nausea, headaches and pains after taking 13 others affected when fumes filled the Metropolitan Store at 80 Rideau St. to hospital. A ministry of health official said ambulance drivers don't need air packs, which cost $1,200 apiece. "When a call comes in, if there's any suggestion or concern about gas, the dispatcher contacts the fire department who have extra masks available." Driver Don Downton said firemen at the scene had air packs, but when he asked for one, he was told he didn't need it. Fire Chief Wes Chatterton said today that ambulance attendants are not trained to use the air packs anyway. "I don't know why our men didn't just go in and get them (the store employees)," Chatterton said, adding he had not yet seen a report of the incident. However, John Montgomery, one the ambulance attendants gassed at the scene Thursday, said that the ambulance attendants are trained para-medics aware of how to use gas masks. It's "a slap in the face" to the public and attendants that they are not readily available, he said. Ambulances crews called to the store were told by their dispatcher that the fire department would have masks for them, he said, adding that the drivers health and safety committee is investigating the mix-up. Montgomery said respirators and communications equipment are also lacking from Ontario ambulances, and the drivers plan to grieve the issue through their union. the rest of the boiler room and sucking gases that were supposed to go up the chimney into the air circulation," Larkin explained. The furnace boiler and air heater are separate, with hot water pipes from the furnace running through the heater, which circulates hot air from them through the store. "Someone had left the service doors of the circulating unit open using pieces of pipe," Larkin said. The doors are equipped with springs to keep them closed. Larkin and Graham said store officials indicated the doors had been propped open for at least a month, and it was probably warm weather that prevented the gases from reaching toxic levels earlier. Larkin believes the fumes in the store had built up from Wednesday, when a female clerk had taken sick, and reached the near-lethal level by Thursday morning. Graham said there are a number of similar furnaces in the Ottawa area, but "it's rare for this type of thing to happen . . . One of our furnace contractors told me he has only heard of three such cases in more than 20 years." The store re-opened at 6 p.m. Thursday. Stricken employees were allowed to go home after being released from hospital. 'It smelled like burned toast' By Hugh Adami Citizen staff writer When Aline Lafontaine arrived for work at the Ri-! deau Street Metropolitan store Thursday morning she detected a peculiar odor in the building but assumed it was the smell of burned toast from the cafeteria. "There are a lot of smells in the store from merchandise and food," said the 52-year-old cafeteria worker. "It smelled like burned toast to me." Some of the 15 Metropolitan employees interviewed after they were treated at the Ottawa General Hospital for toxic gas inhalation said the same thing. None thought that what they were smelling might have been deadly. But by 9:30 a.m., 1V4 hours after most of them had arrived for work, they realized something was wrong. Some had throbbing headaches while others, complaining of dizziness, were forced to go outside for fresh air. Suddenly, cashier Therese Noel, 48, collapsed. Coworker Pierette Gauthier, 30, began to vomit. The two women were carried to the upstairs office and placed on stretchers. Assistant head cashier Giselle Dumouchel, 48, suspecting a natural gas leak from the heating system, alerted the fire department and the Ottawa Gas company. Store manager Don Avery ordered employees and customers out of the store. Two OC Transpo bus drivers, on coffee break, noticed a cafeteria worker passing out and took her outside.' The drivers then radioed for ambulances and used their buses as temporary quarters for some of the stricken workers. No customers were affected by the fumes. Later investigation showed carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases had spread into the store from the furnace's air-handling unit. Although all the affected employees were treated and released, Dumouchel said she was "very worried" about co-workers Noel and Gauthier. "They were unconscious when they were carried out," she said. No one panicked during the incident, she added, crediting the quick work of firemen and ambulance personnel. will be "limited shortages of oil this winter." That National Energy Board has found that rising consumption combined with tighter supplies of foreign oil has created the possibility that demand for oil in Eastern Canada may not be met this winter. The prediction comes a month after Energy Minister Ray Hnatyshyn told the Commons that government "is confident" there would be ample supplies of heating fuel this winter. Shell's spokesman dismissed the possibility of a looming shortage. Refineries were shut down for maintenance and repairs and one Shell Oil refinery in Sarnia was shut down a month longer than expected, but they are running at almost full capacity now, Bunting said. Leo Dahl of Francis Fuels said demand for heating oil in the Ottawa area has dropped to such an extent partially because of conversions to natural gas that oil suppliers are considering launching a massive public relations campaign to point out the problems of heating with natural gas. Ottawa budget approved Taxes up 8.3 By Donna Balkan . Citizen staff writer Ottawa property taxes will increase by about 8.3 per cent next year, but what the whole tax bill will look like still lies in the hands of the school boards and the region. City council voted Thursday to approve Ottawa's $157.7-million operating budget, adding only $188,000 to the estimates approved last month by board of control. The city must raise slightly more than $56 million in taxes an 8.37 per cent increase over 1979. The remainder will come primarily from grants from the provincial and federal governments. For a ratepayer whose home is assessed at $7,000, LOCAL The Citizen, Ottawa, Friday, December 7, 1979, Page 3 Home insulation programs and oil conservation measures appear to be working to the extent that the average delivery to a private home in Ottawa has dropped about 200 gallons a year. The average delivery to an Ottawa home used to be 1,000 gallons (at about $720 a year) and that has dropped to 800 gallons "with people lowering thermostats," said Dahl. ; He added: "Who knows if there will be a shortage until it gets here? If it does it will arrive in March when any reserves there are will be used up." Wholesale suppliers, he said, have reassured retailers they can meet quotas already set out. pet. so far the increase will mean an additional $22.33 on the city's portion of the tax bill. But since that portion is only one-quarter of the total bill another quarter goes to the region and one-half to the school boards ratepayers won't know the total increase until the regional and school board budgets are approved in February or March. Regional officials are anticipating a 12-per-cent increase in spending, and so far have made few budget cuts. The effect of the tax increase will be hidden next year, however, because of the introduction of market value assessment, which will increase some ratepayer's bills and decrease others aside from the mill rate increase. Complaints fly over strapping From page 1, Strap Carleton Separate School Board chairman Denis Bertrand said Thursday he has received a number of complaints about the public strapping of four students and has turned the matter over to the administration. He said he expects a report within a week. William Crossan, CSSB director of education, said there was nothing the administration could do about the incident at Georges Vanier Separate School in Ka-nata until the report was released. He said Margaret McGrath, who has been in her position for the past two years, is considered a good principal. ; While the Ottawa Board of Education banned corporal punishment four years ago, both Ottawa and Carleton separate board still have policies that allow the strap to be used as a last resort. According to the CSSB's policy, corporal punishment is the responsibility of the principal. A witness must be present and a record kept of the students' names, reason for punishment, date and number of strokes administered. McGrath said Thursday she strapped the students only after repeated warnings about throwing snowballs. The principal said the fact the sound of the punishment went over the public address system was an "unfortunate accident." Accident or not, one CSSB trustee said he would raise the whole issue of the use of the strap at the board's management committee meeting Tuesday. Trustee Irving Bansfield, a vociferous opponent of corporal punishment, called the incident "very distasteful." t "I'm most saddened by this. Deliberate or otherwise, it seems very cruel." jil11Jlj li? I I ! ! . . . , -. ... . ...... ' -g 3-. I " " Vit2l- .. "fV . 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