Mill Fined $275,000 for Deadly Explosion

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At Thunder Bay provincial court on April 4, Terrace Bay Pulp Inc. pleaded guilty  to charges related to a deadly industrial accident in 2011. Justice Joyce Pelletier fined the company $275,000.

Terrace Bay Pulp Inc. had been charged after an explosion that killed a worker at its mill in northern Ontario in 2011. The company pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable precautions in the circumstances, and failing to ensure a tank was drained and cleaned or otherwise rendered free from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance before repairs or alterations were made.

On Halloween 2011, a hairline crack in the wall of a steel tank, known as a blow tank, was being welded by workers employed by a subcontractor. An explosion caused the top section of the tank to be driven upward into the steel beams supporting the roof of the facility, creating a 30-foot hole in the roof and a debris field with a radius of about 300 feet.

A worker who was cleaning the tank was killed and the sub-contractor workers injured.

An Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office investigation confirmed the explosion originated within the tank, as a result of existing hazardous substances being ignited.

An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour also confirmed that welding repairs to the tank had been allowed to proceed before the tank had been rendered free of any hazardous substances, and that the mill did not take reasonable precautions relating to the planning and co-ordination of activities in preparing for the welding work.

Charges were laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act,  Section 25(1)(c) and Section 25(2)(h),  Regulation 851/90 (Industrial Regulation), Section 78.

A 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge is added to the fine, under the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

In July 2012, the province announced the mill in Terrace Bay had been purchased by the India-based Aditya Birla Group, which was set to invest $250 million to convert the mill to dissolve wood pulp to produce rayon fibre. The deal was subject to court approval.

 

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