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Labour ministry seeks documents from Vale in wake of fatality

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 10, 2014 - 11:59 AM |
 Vale's Copper Cliff smelter and matte processing operations remain in safe mode after the April 6 death of a worker and the injury of another. Supplied photo.

Vale's Copper Cliff smelter and matte processing operations remain in safe mode after the April 6 death of a worker and the injury of another. Supplied photo.

Smelter remains in 'safe mode'

The Ministry of Labour has issued two orders to Vale in the wake of the April 6 death of one of its workers and the injury of another at its Copper Cliff smelter.

Paul Rochette, 36, was killed after receiving severe head trauma in an incident where it's believed a pin from a crusher broke off and was released at high pressure.

His 28-year-old co-worker received a concussion and facial lacerations in the same incident.

Both Ministry of Labour orders, issued April 8, request documentation from Vale, including training records, a process map for the crushing plant, Health and Safety meeting minutes and maintenance records.

Vale must comply with the order by April 11.

The accident scene is still under control by the Ministry of Labour, which is conducting an investigation into the incident, along with Greater Sudbury Police.

The Copper Cliff smelter, as well as the matte processing operation, are currently in “safe mode.”

“Because it's a hot metal operation, we can't just 'turn it off,' so we've been working to stabilize the process and move material in a manner that ensures the safety of our people and integrity of the asset,” Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said, in an email.

“We've emptied the converters to minimize process risk and drained the furnaces so that we can leave them on standby.”

As for when they're planning to resume normal production, Robson said the company wanted to allow time for its employees to attend Rochette's April 10 funeral “and to focus on supporting each other.”

Ministry of Labour spokesperson Bruce Skeaff said as with any workplace accident investigation, if the ministry is going to file charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it must do so within a year of the accident.

Last September, Vale pleaded guilty to three charges under the act and was fined $1,050,000 in the accident leading to the June 2011 deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier at its Stobie Mine.

Greater Sudbury Police could not be immediately reached for comment on the status of their investigation.

Robson said no decision has yet been made on whether Vale and Steelworkers Local 6500 — the union representing most of Vale's workers — will be working together on an investigation of the accident.

She said “it is our hope” that a joint investigation will be held.

The Steelworkers could not immediately be reached for a comment on the matter, but Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand said April 7 the union had not yet decided on whether it would hold its own investigation or collaborate with Vale.

The company and the union held a joint investigation into the January 2012 death of miner Stephen Perry at Vale's Coleman Mine.

However, they conducted separate investigations into Fram and Chenier's deaths after they were unable to agree on the process.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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