Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Taste of Far Worse Things to Come? Port Metro Vancouver Fire.

It's a scary feeling.  You glance out your office window overlooking the Port Metro Vancouver docks to see thick clouds of white smoke billowing your way.

That's what happened to my prospective son-in-law yesterday at his computer animation shop in a gentrified, former industrial building hard alongside the docks, right by the cranes.  He made a number of trips in his car ferrying his colleagues a safe distance from the fires.

They didn't know what it was, only that it was acrid and they wanted to get away as quickly as they could.  Vancouver Police phone lines were jammed so off they went.

They were lucky.  The container load of trichloroisocyanuric acid, while volatile and flammable, wasn't lethal.  Those exposed mainly sustained burning eyes and throats.  And they could see and smell the smoke.

This is nothing compared to what could lie in store if when a supertanker full of dilbit goes down in the treacherous Second Narrows, spilling its cargo into Burrard Inlet or Coal Harbour.  Experts warn that the diluent, mixed into the bitumen, would separate and rise to the surface where it would form into very toxic clouds of invisible and generally undetectable gas.  Undetectable, that is, until someone breathes it.  Then the people of Vancouver and the North Shore would have a real disaster on their hands.


Dana said...

I wouldn't necessarily believe them about what that cloud was composed of. I wouldn't necessarily believe anyone in a position of authority about anything any more, actually.

In this brave new world the most prudent course is to first assume they're all lying about everything.

The Mound of Sound said...

I expect that is the prudent course, Dana. Wouldn't it be great to know what other hazmat cargoes are to be found in those mountains of shipping containers?

Maybe this will get the people of Vancouver, Burnaby and the North Shore to start demanding answers to just what is going on in their backyards?

Dana said...

Unlikely. The complacency here beggars belief.

Purple library guy said...

Say, Mound, my actual son-in-law works in a computer animation shop in that general area. Does your prospective son-in-law by any chance work for Sony? Maybe they're acquainted or something.

The Mound of Sound said...

No, he works for an outfit called Taga. The second photo was taken from their building.

UU4077 said...

My son lives and works in East Van. When I first came across the story I sent him a text him because his home is directly east of the port and I was concerned they would be directly in the path due to normal wind direction. However, then I saw a newscast showing the wind blowing southeast. His home was safe but it blew directly at his business (it's a new start-up - custom, hand-made bicycles).

He hadn't heard anything and thought - due to the smell - that maybe there was a car fire nearby and started walking towards where he thought the smoke was coming from. He was never made aware of any emergency notices.

BTW - He's fine.