Public Values

Toronto propane explosion: who watches safety risks?

Preventable disaster shows how badly industry 'self-policing' can fail.

The Sunrise Propane fireby Lee Prokaska, The Hamilton Spectator

August 18, 2008 — Moving regulatory agencies out from under the partisan influence of elected government can act as a safeguard for an agency's independence. As well, it usually saves money for taxpayers.

But it can also make it difficult to ensure both the accountability and the transparency of an agency. And as we are seeing in the aftermath of the massive propane explosion in Toronto, that can be bad for the public interest.

The explosion barely a week ago forced thousands of people out of their homes in the north-end Toronto neighbourhood adjacent to Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases. A firefighter died; a plant employee was unaccounted for. Highway 401 was closed for most of a day. Airborne asbestos became an issue for those trying to return to their homes. Some homes were virtually destroyed. At least four class-action suits have been launched against the propane company and government bodies by residents seeking more than $900 million. . .

Privatization vs. Public Values Frame
  Industry self-regulation saves taxpayers money / Government regulation saves peoples' lives

Links and sources
  Who watches safety risks? by Lee Prokaska, The Hamilton Spectator, August 18, 2008

Posted: September 04, 2008

Categories:
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  Politics
  Public services
  Energy
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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