Sackville fire chief “very confident” his dept. could fight a plastics fire on Walker Rd.

Fire Chief Craig Bowser

Sackville’s fire chief says he’s “very confident” his department could put out a fire at the planned plastic pipe manufacturing plant and storage facility at 318 Walker Road near Exit 500 on the Trans-Canada Highway.

“I am very confident in the ability of our members for fire suppression, our members are well-trained in fire suppression,” Chief Craig Bowser said last night during the Sackville Town Council meeting.

“They’re fully trained in self-contained breathing apparatus and all the foam agents that we use in fire suppression as well,” he added.

Bowser was responding to questions originally raised last week by residents of the Walker Road area who pointed out that the nearest fire hydrant is nearly two kilometres away from the plastic pipe factory that Atlantic Industries Limited (AIL) is planning to build.

Environmental engineer Bonnie Swift warned then that fires associated with combustible dust explosions at plastics factories are extremely difficult to extinguish and require specialized training and equipment to fight as well as water and chemicals.

At last night’s meeting, the fire chief said that aside from the training Sackville volunteer firefighters have received in the use of breathing apparatus and foam, they would also have thousands of gallons of water to fight a plastics fire.

“In our fleet of apparatus here at the station, we have a tanker that’s a 2500 gallon tanker,” he said.

“We have the same resource of 2500 gallons in Memramcook and we have another resource of 1800 gallons with the Amherst Fire Department,” he added.

Bowser said Sackville Fire & Rescue could also call on firefighters in Dorchester and Point de Bute “to assist in the water shuttle.”

When asked how much plastic pipe and other materials would be stored on the AIL site, the fire chief said he did not know.

“To date, I do not have that information,” Bowser said.

No permits yet

Landscaping and drainage work underway last month on the site at 318 Walker Road. Photo: Will Kriski

During last night’s council meeting, Town Planner Lori Bickford was asked what permits have been issued so far for the AIL site.

“To date, we have an application before us for a development permit, which would be the landscaping aspect of the property,” Bickford replied.

“So, [it’s] the storm drainage, storm management plan that’s currently being reviewed by town engineering, but that, to date, is the only application before us,” she said.

Bickford suggested that the work so far that includes clear-cutting trees, levelling the site with heavy equipment and hauling in rock, can be done without a permit.

“There becomes a certain point that the storm drainage plan has to be approved before that is complete so, if there was stuff that was done that was contrary to that, it would have to be rectified,” she explained.

So far, no EIA

It hasn’t been decided yet, whether the AIL project will require a provincial Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA.

“The Department of Environment and Local Government (ELG) is currently screening project information and no decision has yet been made regarding whether or not an EIA registration is required,” says a statement issued today by the province.

At last night’s council meeting, Sackville CAO Jamie Burke said water use could be one factor that would trigger a provincial EIA, which would include a public hearing.

Under Schedule A of a provincial environmental regulation, “all waterworks with a capacity greater than fifty cubic metres of water daily,” would be subject to an EIA. (Fifty cubic metres equals 50,000 litres of water.)

But, Mike Wilson, CEO of the AIL Group of Companies, says the plastic pipe factory won’t need much water.

In a letter to the town planner dated May 24, he writes:

The Walker Road plant will require only small amounts of water from a water well on the property. The closed loop system for cooling the process will need small amounts of make-up water required because of evaporation. The most water will be required for the office and plant washrooms for an estimated staff of 20 people.

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8 Responses to Sackville fire chief “very confident” his dept. could fight a plastics fire on Walker Rd.

  1. Susan says:

    Too bad the fire fighting foams can cause ground water contamiantion and it the only thing that can put out plastic fires. Those poor people up there are doomed either way as far as their wells are concerned.

  2. PB says:

    The fire department has little to no credibility as it is. Urban centres have a hard time managing these fires and suddenly the small town that we are is in no way concerned that they can handle it? Come on.

    • Susan says:

      If large centres in the US cannot put out these plastic fires with all their highly trained professionals, I am not confident at all in Sackville’s abilities. But the council who could care less about its citizens is pushing the fire department to make these claims because they didn’t even consider these risks until people started calling them out publicly on it…I wouldn’t trust this council as far as you could throw them when it comes to protecting their own citizens, they almost all get an F.

  3. Mike Gallant says:

    So far……all the people who’ve never fought a fire, are expert on this. I’ll put my trust in firefighters.

  4. Percy Best says:

    I do wonder why representatives of our Town have never mentioned the fact that the main town water trunk lines do indeed run right by this new ‘Industrial Park’. The main valves are located towards the bottom of the Park and are situated on RESERVOIR ROAD’s bottom section. They are marked VALVE BOX and are very visible off to the side of the Trans Canada Highway. It would seem so logical to run a large diameter branch line up towards Exit 500 and totally branch service the full Industrial Park with town treated water, and of course fire hydrants wherever needed. It would also open up the availability of plenty of new residential construction on the hillside. It is long past time to get Economic Development ‘in gear’ I would think. One cannot ride along on the shirttails of Mount Allison forever.

    • Susan says:

      They should properly service the site if they want it developed for industrial projects. Using ground water is risky buisness for an industrial park, well drawdown is a real issue.

      • Percy Best says:

        Yes Susan you are right. At the Town Council meeting that I attended in 2008 it was stated that Town water was readily available to this proposed Industrial Park and that was one of the main reasons that this area was approved by Council. Since then our town management has done nothing at all to carry out what they were committed to do. Just a lot of talk and no action even though we have on staff a full-time Economic Development employee.

        Geeze, they didn’t even bother talking to the actual landowners of the approved park. A proper thing to do would have been for the Town to buy the land and service it with water, sewage, electrical power and a proper road system. Then sell turn key industrial lots off at a fair market value. That is what all the progressive towns and cities do. Why does Sackville have to be so backwards at times?

  5. Susan says:

    I agree Percy a total backward approach. They should also have road use agreements with industrial developers so if they damage the town roads they fix them, not the taxpayers. They will have tractor trailers up there constantly..the Walker Road Exit is a mess right now. Mud is everywhere and it is as slippery as heck.I can’t believe those poor landowners had their properties designated industrial with no consultation from the Town or planning… that is just insane, nowhere have I seen such backward nonsense.

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