2013 News Story: Bittersweet victory for mine safety – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – December 31, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The $1-million fine against Vale the largest occupational health and safety related fine issued by an Ontario court and the province’s decision to conduct a mining review together constitute The Sudbury Star’s top news story of 2013. Both stand to have a significant impact on the city’s defining industry.

On June 8, 2011, Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, were working on the 3,000-foot level of Stobie Mine when they were overcome by a 350-tonne run of muck consisting of rock and water.

Vale pleaded guilty to three charges admitting to failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent water accumulation in the mine, which was determined to have played a role in the run of muck.

“The fine and the announcement of a review are the most significant legal developments relating to mine safety we’ve seen in this province for decades,” said Sudbury Star Managing Editor Brian MacLeod. “The persistent efforts of people in the community undoubtedly played a role in forcing the labour ministry to proceed with a review of mining practices.”

The Steelworkers and a local group had pushed for an inquiry.

“For it to be the news story of the year, it’s unfortunate the accident (which occurred on June 8, 2011) happened, first of all,” said Steelworkers Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand. “I wish it was a story we never had to publish due to the victims. It was a long fight to get the review. We have been pushing for the inquiry. It’s been some 30 years since the last inquiry into mining. We fought hard…It’s good news for us. It is time. We are fighting for change.”

The province announced in mid-December it would hold a comprehensive review of mining health and safety, the full details to be made public in January. The review will be led by Ontario’s chief prevention officer George Grotzioti, who will head an advisory group of industry, labour and health and safety representatives.

The Steelworkers union, and a 12-member group called Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support (MINES), headed by Jordan’s mother Wendy Fram, had been pushing for an inquiry following the deaths of two Stobie Mine miners.

The review committee will work for six to 12 months.

The Steelworkers’ investigation into the accident will be contained in the review, as will investigations from other mining fatalities over the years.

Back in mid-April, Fram and fellow MINES committee member Gerry Lougheed Jr., travelled to Toronto to meet with Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi and Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle to push for a mining inquiry.

MINES held public meetings in Sudbury and in Timmins, where another chapter has formed. Thousands of postcards supporting the call for a mining inquiry were gathered and many of them were sent to former Labour Minister Linday Jeffrey. Fram met with Jeffrey and former Premier Dalton McGuinty when they visited Sudbury in 2012, but wasn’t encouraged by that meeting.

Gerry Lougheed Jr. said the push for a mining inquiry was a community-driven effort.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/12/30/bittersweet-victory-for-mine-safety-advocates


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