Cavendish man in dis­pute with oil company

Western Pe­tro­leum weary of cross­ing bridge for de­liv­er­ies

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

En­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns

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.

Hands tied

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.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Cavendish’s Pa­trick Thomas is hav­ing trou­ble get­ting oil de­liv­ered to his home.

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