Federal government confirms investigation at Sterling Fuels

1 / 2

Work refusal at Sterling Fuels over safety concerns has 'major' financial impact

Work refusal at Sterling Fuels over safety concerns has 'major' financial impact

Employment and Social Development Canada has confirmed the federal government is investigating the situation at Sterling Fuels in Windsor that has sparked criticism from area politicians and union leaders.

In a statement issued to CBC, spokesperson Amélie Caron said specific information about the investigation cannot be released while it is underway.

"The Labour Program investigates serious accidents, fatalities and continued refusals to work in federally regulated industries,' she explained, adding every employee has the right to refuse unsafe work.

The petroleum producing company was issued more than 30 work orders after a recent inspection by Windsor Fire Services. They have between 30 and 60 days to comply.

Area politicians and union leaders held a news conference on Monday near the company's towering tanks in Sandwich Town to call for the government to take action.

MPP Lisa Gretzky described the situation at the plant, which handles 23 million gallons of product at any time, as "a tragedy waiting to happen." 

Sterling Fuels safety manager Joel Gardner said the company was issued "three compliance directions," one of which has already been closed, and provided safety meeting and training records to the government last fall.

In a statement he said safety is the company's "foremost concern" and that it had hired an engineering firm to help them comply with the fire department's requirements.

Concerns about safety at the site come after the union stopped work last March because employees claimed they had been asked to do work without proper safety equipment and training.