Tin Can Solar Panels

In a report released by Corporate Knights: The Canadian Magazine for Responsible Business, Newfoundland received a failing grade for environmental protection and renewable energy initiatives. Only one other province received an overall lower grade. That’s embarrassing.

I suggest if Premiere Danny Williams wants to improve that grade, how about providing a small rebate that would make the purchase and instillation of local sustainable energy products such as the Cansolair Solar Panels more affordable? I would love to install one of these panels on my house, but the cost is just a little too high for my pocket book.

An article from TheIndependent.ca:

Meaney [the guy who invented the solar panels] says one of his panels, properly placed on a south-facing wall of a Newfoundland home, could provide enough heat to replace a tank of oil a year — worth about $800, and rising.

But locals aren’t yet buying in — not the public, and not government.

Meaney’s been working on his solar panels for more than 15 years, and manufacturing them for about seven. The product is environmentally friendly in more ways than one: not only does it provide free, pollution-free heating, but the core of each panel is made up of more than 200 aluminum pop cans.

I don’t understand why the government of Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t support environmentally-conscious local businesses such as Cansolair or provide consumer rebates that encourage homeowners to at least consider sustainable energy alternatives. What reason is there for not implementing such initiatives?

The Smell Of Gasoline

My neighbor spilled about 1/2 gallon of gasoline in his driveway almost a week ago. The ground was frozen, so it flowed over the ice and down around my foundation. The smell is strong. You notice it as soon as you walk in the house. I had some windows open for a couple days and the smell seemed to dissipate, but today it’s back stronger than ever. The weather has warmed above freezing, so the remaining gas, that could’ve been sitting on top of the ground and ice, seeped around the foundation, too. I think.

I phoned the fire department a couple days ago about it. They suggested I open the windows. They assured me it wouldn’t permeate the concrete foundation, only getting in the house if there was a crack.

So maybe there’s a crack in the foundation. I’m considering calling Environment Canada to get an expert to assess the situation since I’m concerned about two things: 1) Our health, and 2) the house’s value.

This sucks.

Update (Apr 4, 2008): I emailed the provincial Environment department yesterday the following:

I found your name on the Environment Department website, hoping I found someone who can provide some guidance:

I live in Riverview, NB. My neighbor spilled around 1/2 gallon of gasoline on his driveway last week. The gas flowed over the frozen ground and down around me house’s foundation. The smell was VERY strong in my basement. I just opened the windows, hoping for the best. The smell dissipated the next day, but I called the fire department, just in case. They said the gas should not affect the foundation, only getting in the house if there was a crack in it, which I don’t know if there is.

Since then the smell has been weakening; however, yesterday’s warm weather brought the smell back again, and it was strong.

Now I’m wondering if I should be worried about it (for my family’s health).

Do you anything about this? Who I could call about it?

They phoned me within an hour of receiving the email, arranging a visit to my house, which occurred today. He gave me his business card: Environmental Inspector, Investigations and Enforcement for New Brunswick.

He detected the gasoline smell as soon as he walked into the house, which wasn’t over-powering, but it’s disturbingly noticeable.

We tried to find the source of the fumes. We talked around the house outside, where the gas was spilled, but couldn’t find the spot; there was no obvious spill area; we couldn’t find how the fumes got into the house. Even rubbing our hands along the grass at the edge of the foundation didn’t turn up anything. He thought maybe the spill reached the sump pump, but he changed his mind after inspecting that – the smell wasn’t stronger there.

He doesn’t think it’s harmful, so we’re going to continue to keep the windows open, hoping the fumes dissipate. He asked me to call him Monday with an update, and to call their emergency number if the smell gets worse on the weekend.

In the end, there’s not much he can do unless the source is found. He did take photos of the area, though.