Highly anticipated Sudbury inquest opens Monday – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 20, 2015)

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

Vale Ltd. officials say they can’t turn back the clock to before June 8, 2011, when two workers were killed at the company’s Stobie Mine.

But they said they hope the families of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, find some comfort “in the significant work done since that night to ensure this kind of tragedy never occurs again.”

Vale issued the statement three days before the start Monday of a coroner’s investigation into the men’s death. Regional supervising coroner Dr. David Eden will preside at the inquest, at which a five-member jury will hear evidence from several witnesses at what is expected to be a 10-day hearing.

Vale said in its statement that the purpose of the inquest is to review the circumstances around the fatality so that future deaths can be prevented.

Chenier and Fram died after being overcome by a run of 350 tons of muck while they were working at the 3,000-foot level of the mine.

“The deaths of Jason and Jordan continue to sadden our operations and our community,” said Vale in the statement. “Revisiting events of June 2011 will be difficult for everyone involved. There will be a lot of testimony during the course of the inquest and it will be emotional for many, but will be hardest on the Fram and Chenier families.”

Vale and United Steelworkers Local 6500 pursued separate investigations into the tragedy. Vale developed a plan of action with 40 recommendations, to address “contributing factors and improve control measures to protect the health and safety of our employees.

“We believe this work, coupled with the recent recommendations from the provincial Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review, will help ensure Vale and mining companies across Ontario become safer places to work,” the company said.

USW conducted its own investigation into the men’s death, emerging with a 200-page report containing dozens of recommendations.

One of its key recommendations was that a public inquiry be held to improve mine safety, with emphasis on water management.

A surplus of water in the century-old mine was identified as one of the contributing factors in the double-fatality. The report last week from the mining review identified water management as among the top six of 18 recommendations to improve mine safety.

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