Cavendish man in dispute with oil company
Western Petroleum weary of crossing bridge for deliveries
A Cavendish man is making a last ditch effort to get furnace oil delivered to his property.
For the better part of two years, Patrick Thomas has not received any oil from Western Petroleum in Harbour Grace.
He last placed an order with the company in December of 2012 and is still waiting for the order to be filled.
“They said it was too dangerous,” Thomas recently told The Compass.
As a result, the 20-year Canadian Armed Forces veteran has used jerry cans to get oil from stations in Whitbourne and Carbonear.
“That only lasts me for about a week,” said Thomas. “I can’t lug it any more, I have a bad back.”
The problem at the heart of the matter is a 100-foot driveway that leads to Thomas’ home.
After a steep incline from the road, the unpaved driveway snakes at the beginning and crosses a man-made wooden bridge in the middle.
Made of planks and telephone poles, the bridge was made by Thomas himself and crosses a fast-moving stream that feeds into a large pond and eventually the waters of Trinity Bay.
However, by just looking at it, one might be inclined to second-guess an attempt to cross it.
In fact, that is one of the issues that started all of this. Prior to 2012, Thomas received a regular shipment of oil.
Then, the driver stopped crossing the bridge to deliver it. That was fine with Thomas, who said he would rather the company not cross the bridge.
“I offered to help with pulling the hose,” said Thomas.
He and a relative did that once, but there are liability concerns for Western and the hose has not crossed the bridge ever since.
“It is frustrating,” said Thomas.
Western Petroleum operations manager Dave Brown most recently visited the site last month. He cites the width of the driveway and the stream as the primary reasons oil had not been delivered.
“It is an environmental risk,” said Brown.
Should the truck slip into the stream or the hose malfunction while over the bridge, it would be a matter of moments before oil is in the pond below or worse, in Trinity Bay.
It has been less than a year since an accident in Heart’s Delight-Islington spilled some 300 litres of furnace oil onto the ground.
While that incident was quickly cleaned up and there was no permanent environmental damage, it could have been much worse. It was a broken Western hose that caused the spill.
Joy Dobbie is with the local service district in Cavendish. She acknowledged it is “a tricky place” to get into for a large truck and recognized the environmental risk that comes with delivering oil to the site.
“We wish there was something we could do,” she said.
What this comes down to is a man who needs oil, especially now that winter is setting in, and an oil company that has evolved its safety practices since beginning service.
“There are too many factors at play,” said Brown.
Thomas said he would keep the fight going until oil is delivered. He has contacted other oil companies in the region, but he is on a fixed income and there may be times their payment schedules do not match his own.
“They could come and I wouldn’t have the money,” said Thomas.
Cavendish’s Patrick Thomas is having trouble getting oil delivered to his home.