COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: Readers discuss gas can safety concerns

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 2, 2013 

Online comments about a Nov. 21 story headlined "Fears grow over Canadians hauling lots of gas in cans over border" by Frank Luba and Gordon McIntyre of The Province in Vancouver, B.C.:

Bev Miller:

"I have never believed that anyone should be able to transport more than one approved gas can. I totally agree that it's a potential for disaster."

Rich Marcus:

"Unfortunately, it will take a catastrophic accident before a law is implemented."

Karin DeLano:

"It is dangerous and something has got to be done! Yet my hubby has to have a hazmat license to move equipment that has fuel in (it). How can they do this?"

Laurel Carr Collins:

"Things are tough all over, but is compromising the safety of your family and other drivers really worth saving the money? I'm nervous if I drive my one gas can from the station back to my house!"

Stephanie Bennum:

"It's getting out of hand!"

Shannon Webb:

"Safety hazard, for sure! I am always seeing milk piled next to gas cans! Sometimes next to children in car seats even. It's dangerous!"

Bev Miller:

"The Canadians are not the ones to blame here. It's encouraged behavior because there's no state law against it."

Carol Tyler:

"Could somebody please chime in here about the science related to what makes this gas vapor explode, in both crash and non-crash scenarios? Also, the toxicity of just breathing escaping vapors from vented cans on a jostling car ride is at issue, since olfactory adaptation to the odor might occur within minutes, yet infants children and adults can be breathing volatile gas vapor all the way home. Is this worth the savings per gallon?"

Stephanie Miron Empson:

"We have reported this to Border Patrol and their concern is that the Canadian citizen should be paying tax on the gas and not the hazard that it is with them traveling with it in their trunk."

Tricia Morones:

"The U.S. Border Patrol doesn't have any jurisdiction over Canadian taxes or duty. They also have no jurisdiction over gas cans in cars. It has nothing to do with them at all. They are an agency that patrols illegal entry into the U.S. The Washington State Patrol would be the agency to talk with about these concerns. It is a disaster waiting to happen in this county."

Marcie Germain:

"I called the police because of a neighbor to the north was packing his SUV with jugs at a gas station putting them between an infant and toddler in the backseat, stacking them in the back and passinger side. Endangering kids and anyone else."

Tom Smith:

"Should be limited to an approved five-gallon container."

Martha Zender:

"I really do hope that this is finally addressed. I've never understood how this practice could be allowed, it's hazardous on so many levels. It's a crime not to regulate this."

Eve Vazquez:

"The other day I was getting gas and I saw a minivan with four kids in the back (one a baby) and the man put five huge gas cans (I believe 15 gallons each) in the back behind the kids. So sad and dangerous, just the fumes alone are terrible for those kids. They had a Canadian license plate."

Anne-Mairi Donaldson-Schoenecker:

"Also what about a static spark that can be caused from the plastic bags they have the cans in? I cringe every time I see the cans in a bag at the gas station. One spark could ignite the whole station and all those within a large radius of the place."

Larry Illman:

"The last time I gassed up a Costco the lane was held up by an elderly couple that took forever to gas up their car and then proceeded to open their trunk and haul out a couple of large gas containers of which they were unable to even get the tops off. So they waited for the attendant to do it for them. Then, finally after they filled them, they were not strong enough to lift them in their trunk so another wait. Canadians, of course, but what really upset me was they were driving a fairly new Mercedes. I asked the attendant if that was common, he said yes, and I never gassed up at Costco again. A couple in an older car? OK, but a couple in a Mercedes?"

Konrad Gail Lau:

"Ooo, ooo, ooo! I have a classic solution to this 'problem' related to gas being exported to Canada. All we have to do is raise our fuel tax to meet the cost to the consumer of Canadian fuel and they won't buy it any longer.

"Wait a minute ... the governor and his Democrat brethren are working on that very thing as we speak. Maybe this report amounts to much ado about nothing.

"Why is the question never asked: How can Canadians continue to vote themselves taxes and then do everything in their power to avoid them? I'm guessing they are really no different than us."

Brian Rod:

"One gallon of gasoline vaporized equals 20 sticks of dynamite."

Rob Neale:

"Violation of state fire code: 2204.4 Dispensing into portable containers. The dispensing of flammable or combustible liquids into portable approved containers shall comply with Sections 2204.4.1 through 2204.4.3.

"2204.4.1 Approved containers required. Class I (e.g. gasoline), II and IIIA liquids shall not be dispensed into a portable container unless such container does not exceed a six-gallon (22.7 L) capacity, is listed or of approved material and construction, and has a tight closure with a screwed or spring-loaded cover so designed that the contents can be dispensed without spilling."

Gary L. Crawford:

"Thanks Rob. We just don't see any enforcement. Yesterday on the radio talk show a fellow said that a guy had two blue food grade 55-gallon barrels in the back of a pickup he filled at Costco without anyone from Costco saying a word."

Kurt Jensen:

"I would like to see a 10 gallon total limit set for cans inside a passenger compartment. I watched in horror one day at Costco as a young couple had eight five-gallon gas cans in their minivan that they were placing on the floor around the stroller and their kid sitting in his car seat.

"But then again... What could possibly go wrong?"

Beverly Claire FitzGerald:

"I have spoken to the Bellingham Costco about this very serious problem several times over the past years. Picture yourselves on the highway, or any road/street for that matter, in the center of a multi-vehicle collision with just one of these cars or trucks loaded with filled gasoline cans. There would be such a massive explosion and many lives lost, it's a mind boggler. It all boils down to selfishness on the part of those customers who are filling those gas cans. When are there going to be laws and strict enforcement to stop this public endangerment! Furthermore, why are the Canadian customs officials permitting people to transport all that gasoline into the country?"

Beverly Feldberg:

"So who's going to do something about it? Answer, Nobody! Stores are in the business of selling, what they do with the product after they leave is up to the buyer. Police going to stop you? Of course not. Border going to stop you? Of course not. Common sense? There is none."

Louie A. Burrell:

"Beverly, you're so right. Someone needs to stop this though."

Bryan Rehberger:

"No one is going to try to stop this until there is a major explosion somewhere because of it and people are killed. There will be an uproar for about two weeks, and then it will be back to business as usual."

Ana Liese McIntyre:

"Beverly, my friend took pictures of someone filling up a huge black garbage bag with gasoline at Bakerview Fred Meyers. Pics even had license plate and were posted on Facebook. Authorities were called but said they couldn't do anything. No joke."

Lauri McBeath:

"There were gas cans inside the garbage bags. I see it happen often. My concern with the practice of wrapping plastic fuel containers inside of plastic garbage bags is the static electricity. The practice of so much fuel in cans is a disaster waiting to happen.

"On the other hand, we don't want laws that are so restrictive that we can't buy fuel for our lawn mowers."

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

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