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Hearing resumes for fatal propane explosion

Toronto - A sentencing hearing for Sunrise Propane, the Ontario company convicted in a deadly explosion at a Toronto propane plant, has resumed today after a 10-month adjournment.

Sunrise Propane and its directors Shay Ben-Moshe and Valery Belahov were found guilty in June 2013 of nine provincial offences related to the deadly 2008 blast that forced thousands of people from their homes.

Twenty-five-year-old employee Parminder Saini died in the blast and a 55-year-old firefighter who responded to the emergency on his day off died of a heart attack.

The court ruled that Sunrise failed to provide safety training and a safe working environment, discharged a contaminant and contravened a number of provincial orders related to the cleanup after the blast.

The court also found that Ben-Moshe and Belahov failed to take all reasonable care to prevent the company from flouting those orders.

The trial heard that, according to the government, the initial blast took place when propane vapours ignited during a risky truck-to-truck propane transfer.

Today's sentencing hearing began with testimony from Daniel Beaudoin, a production manager at Pro-Par, a maker of propane tanks in Quebec.

Beaudoin looked at Pro-Par inspection reports for a tanker truck at the centre of the 2008 blast and, under questioning from a Crown prosecutor, surmised that neither of two passive emergency shutdown systems appeared to be in place.

But under cross-examination from Ben-Moshe and Belahov's defence lawyer, however, Beaudoin agreed that a Pro-Par inspector would not have released the trailer into service if it hadn't complied with all rules and regulations.

Following the blast, the government shut down all three of Sunrise Propane's facilities.

Both Ben-Moshe and Belahov were present in court today.

March 30, 2015
By The Canadian Press