Owen Sound, ON – Aecon Construction Group Inc., was fined $225,000 on March 7, 2011, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after an explosion that killed a homeowner.
During the summer and fall of 2008, Union Gas Ltd. started providing natural gas service to residential neighbourhoods outside of Owen Sound. Union Gas contracted Aecon to install the natural gas lines. One of the homes being serviced, on Front St. in East Linton, had a private propane service on the property. This included a storage tank and buried supply lines.
On September 25, 2008, Aecon arrived at the home to begin installation of the natural gas line. The propane line had not been marked and was still in service that morning. The natural gas line was installed using an underground plough. During the process, the blade of the plough severed the unmarked propane line. Propane leaked through the soil and foundation of the house into the basement. The next day, one of the homeowners entered the basement and lit a candle. The propane that had accumulated in the basement ignited, which caused an explosion and a fire. The homeowner was blown out of the house and suffered third-degree burns leading to death.
A Ministry of Labour investigation found that the Aecon supervisor was aware of the propane service, but assumed the propane line would not be in the path of the natural gas line. The homeowners had not been present to supervise the location and excavation of the existing service lines.
Aecon Construction Group Inc. pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the owner of the propane service was requested to locate and mark the service prior to the excavation.
The fine was imposed by Judge Gary F. Hearn. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.