Liquid nitrogen move investigated by University of Windsor

The University of Windsor and the Ministry of Labour are investigating claims a nitrogen tank was improperly moved by students last week.

CUPE 1393 claims 3 students, 1 professor moved tank of liquid nitrogen along Wyandotte Street

CUPE 1393 claims three university students and a professor were dangerously moving liquid nitrogen along Windsor streets last week. 2:40

The University of Windsor and the Ministry of Labour are investigating claims a nitrogen tank was improperly moved by students last week.

Striking members of CUPE 1393 at the university posted a picture and video of the alleged incident online.

CUPE members claim three students and engineering department head André Sobiesiak pushed a large container the union says is filled with liquid nitrogen along Wyandotte Street last Friday.

In the video and a photo, a 200-litre tank is on a cart being moved to the new engineering building on Wyandotte Street West.

The union claims the move posed a great deal of danger to the students and the public.

No one can say for certain whether the tank was full or not, but even so the technician who normally deals with liquid nitrogen said it was still a very dangerous situation.

Candy Donaldson, the woman who handles liquid nitrogen for the school, said the alleged move was against safety regulations.

"It's a very heavy tank and it's not meant to be bumped along city roads," said Donaldson, a striking member of CUPE 1393.

Donaldson said liquid nitrogen burns, kills tissue and displaces oxygen, which could cause a asphyxiation.

"And there's just the crushing hazard [of the tank]," she said.

The union members claim they watched the four men take the empty tank from the new engineering building back to the old building where they allege it was filled at the chemical control centre and then hauled three blocks back to the new engineering building.

Donaldson said only a certified person, namely her, should be allowed to the fill the tank and then it should have been moved by truck.

"You are not to ship hazardous materials without being transportation-of-dangerous-goods certified," she claimed.

Donaldson said workers with CUPE 1001, who are not on strike, are the ones who should have moved the tank and who, to her knowledge, did not  refuse to do it..

"There's no reason I can think of to put those people at risk; to put the public at risk on a city street," Donaldson said.

Donaldson said that when confronted Sobiesiak, he told them he got clearance from the university's health and safety manager Leigh Harold.

Neither of them returned phone calls from CBC.

University spokesperson Holly Ward said the move is against university policy.

"We were very surprised to see the photo and the dean is well aware of the situation and is launching an investigation to take steps to make sure this doesn't happen again," ward said.

CUPE 1393 also reported the incident to the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Transportation.

So far, only the university and the Ministry of Labour are investigating.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.