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UPDATE: Subcontractor work caused gas leak at Michael Garron Hospital

Angela Gismondi
UPDATE: Subcontractor work caused gas leak at Michael Garron Hospital

TORONTO – An EllisDon subcontractor working at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) June 6 was responsible for a gas leak that caused some residents and businesses to be evacuated and the hospital to redirect patients from its emergency department. 

“One of our subcontractors working on the grounds of the hospital struck a gas line causing the leak,” said a spokesperson from EllisDon in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “A full investigation is underway to better understand the exact cause.”

A “significant” gas leak was reported in the morning at the east York hospital, causing roads to be closed and some residents and businesses to be evacuated from the area.

“We want thank Toronto Fire, Police, Enbridge and the teams at Michael Garron Hospital for their speedy reaction,” said the spokesperson. “We’d also like to apologize to the patients and staff of the hospital, residents of the community and anyone else affected.”

Reports indicated a gas line was struck on Mortimer Avenue near the entrance of the emergency room, an area that is undergoing renovations.

The primary objective was to prevent any natural gas from entering the hospital, said Toronto Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop at a press conference June 6.

“We immediately shut down the HVAC system to the hospital to prevent the gas from coming in,” he said. “We ended up with 10 crews and a hazardous materials response.”

Enbridge was able to shut the gas supply off, Jessop reported.

“Toronto Fire Service right now is doing one last air monitoring check throughout the main buildings…but at this point, no report of injuries, no further risk to the public and most importantly the hospital maintains full continuity of operations,” he said.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at 9:36 a.m.

“The smell could be noticed several blocks away given the diameter of the gas line,” Jessop said.

“It was a five, six-inch diameter main. It was a significant gas leak. You could hear it coming up from blocks away…It was expelling a lot of gas. The wind was on our side today.”

In addition to shutting down the HVAC system, firefighters also deployed a number of handlines.

“The purpose of the water is to disperse the gas so that it doesn’t get concentrated and it doesn’t pocket anywhere,” Jessop explained. “The water is primarily used to make sure the gas continues to be dispersed and is redirected away from the hospital and any of the entrances.”

Nearby residents were evacuated in the Mortimer Avenue to Barker Avenue area and Coxwell Avenue to Crestland Avenue. The East York Civic Centre was also evacuated. The hospital and RH McGregor public school were not evacuated but people were encouraged to avoid the area.

The emergency department at the hospital was put on redirect and other hospitals accommodated those patients for a period of time.

“A number of other buildings were evacuated and a number self-evacuated while others sheltered in place,” Jessop said. “Toronto Fire Service air monitored all of the surrounding buildings and had staff in the hospital going floor to floor to make sure that there was no risk to any of the public given the proximity to the hospital to their staff or to any of their patients. At no time did we determine or detect any gas readings inside the hospital that would have caused us concern.”

It took over three hours to get the leak under control.

“Everybody did everything they could as safely as they could and as quickly as they could,” Jessop noted.

Toronto Fire completed their investigation related to the leak in the afternoon and left the site.

“MGH would like to thank Toronto Fire, Toronto Police Service, Toronto Paramedic Services and Enbridge Gas for their swift response and assistance,” reads a statement issued by the hospital. “The hospital also extends its gratitude to its patients and community – as well as its staff, physicians, learners, volunteers and health system partners – for their patience and support.”


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