by KRISTIAN PARTINGTON
Just as Ontario's maple syrup producers are preparing to run lines and tap sugar maples for the 2011 harvest, word has hit that enforcement of regulations governing furnace oil-fired evaporators and finishers could affect some Ontario producers.
The regulations aren't new, said Dan Ward, an engineer with Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs who specializes in Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA) regulations. “All of this had been around for a long time, since 2001, I believe,” he said, “but the issue keeps surfacing once in a while.”
He noted that TSSA inspectors have the authority to conduct surprise inspections of oil-fired evaporators to ensure they meet the requirements of the TSSA code under provincial regulations.
The problem, said Dan Cassie, president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers' Association, is evaporators today don't have the same standard of manufacturer streamlining as, for example, a furnace or a water heater.
“There's always been fuel-oil regulations in place,” said Cassie, “and we've always backed proper tanks, burners and the lines all hooked up properly. Where we're having the biggest problem is that they're looking at the evaporator as an appliance.”
“An evaporator is a unique piece of equipment,” he said. Because many systems and manufacturers vary in design “it's hard to get the information out as to what meets the standards.”
Cassie said he guesses that perhaps 20 or 30 per cent of Ontario producers use furnace-oil evaporators and to his knowledge there has been no incidence of faulty evaporators causing damage or injury in Ontario.
Ward said a producer who was denied delivery of fuel because of lacking inspection verification may have prompted the recent concern about surprise inspections. Fuel suppliers are also licensed by the TSSA and are required to inspect the appliances they serve every couple of years, he explained. “If they are caught filling equipment that is not compliant they risk losing their licence.”
The TSSA does have a process by which producers can have their equipment verified in order to be compliant but Ward advises producers to do their homework before ordering an inspection. There is a cost associated with each TSSA visit, he said, and there's usually paperwork that will have to be done in advance of a visit.
Cassie, who's preparing for syrup production on his properties south of Elora, said his organization wants to cooperate but needs more information.
“At this time of the year to put in place a wave of enforcement is a little unfair when there's 10 other months of the year to look into it,” he added.
He said “the right people know of our concerns” and he's hopeful that after this year's harvest a solution to the issue of standardization can be found. BF