Superintendent warned about water levels – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2015)

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

A former superintendent at Stobie Mine who toured the underground facility the day two men were killed at its 3,000-foot level said he left the mine about noon with concerns about excess water and plugged drain holes.

Larry Lauzon was brought in June 8, 2011, to offer advice to superintendent Keith Birney about safety practices. Stobie routinely experiences constant problems due to water being funnelled from surface.

Stobie supervisor Jason Chenier, 35, and miner Jordan Fram, 26, were killed by a run of tons of muck on the 3,000-level. The incident is believed to have occurred about 9:45 p.m.

Lauzon testified Tuesday at the seventh day of the coroner’s inquest into their deaths that he noticed on his tour varying depths of water accumulation at several levels of Stobie’s B division, where the men were overcome by muck. He talked with Birnie, cautioning him to take water issues seriously, and spoke with workers they encountered on their tour about safe mining practices.

As he was leaving the mine, Lauzon said he looked for the mine manager to see if he was aware of water conditions in the mine.

He wasn’t asked if he was able to connect with him about the water problem.

The inquest heard last week as much as six million gallons of water is drained or pumped out of Stobie every day. Much of the water drains in from large indentations on surface from two former open-pit mines.

Tuesday, the inquest heard that Stobie employee Lee Nelson was tasked on day shift June 8 with unplugging the drain hole that ran from the 2,400 level to the 2,500 level. He kept “pounding away” at the blockage from below, with seven or eight long poles that were connected, trying to break it free, he testified.

He did get a trickle of water to flow, but by the end of his shift, the hole was still plugged.

Under questioning by coroner’s counsel Susan Bruce, Nelson said the condition of the drain hole was about the same at the end of his shift as at the beginning.

Nelson testified he told his supervisor when he got back to surface the hole was still plugged.

The three-woman, one-man jury (a male juror was excused for medical reasons) heard Monday from Ministry of Labour engineer Harsimran Kalsi. He went underground at Stobie Mine the day after the fatality and visited the 3,000-foot level.

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