Terrace Bay Pulp has been fined $275,000 for an explosion that killed a worker at its Northern Ontario mill on Oct. 31, 2011.
The company pleaded guilty in a Thunder Bay provincial court, April 4, to failing to take reasonable precautions and failing to ensure that a steel tank was drained and cleaned from any explosive, flammable or harmful substance before repairs or alterations were made.
Justice Joyce Pelletier imposed the fine plus a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.
The court heard that a hairline crack in the wall of a steel tank, known as a blow tank, was being welded by workers employed by a subcontractor. The tank was about 70 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter and contained hazardous substances.
An explosion lifted the top section of the tank into the steel beams supporting the facility’s roof, creating a 30-foot hole in the roof and a debris field with a radius of about 300 feet.
A worker employed by the mill, who was involved in cleaning the tank, was killed and the sub-contractor workers required medical attention.
At that time, the mill was run by the Buchanan Group of Thunder Bay. The operation was sold to the Aditya Birla Group in 2012.
An Ontario First Marshal’s Office investigation confirmed the explosion originated within the tank as a result of existing hazardous substances being ignited. A Ministry of Labour investigation also confirmed that welding repairs to the tank had been allowed to proceed before the tank was cleaned of hazardous substances.