COCHRANE – The Ministry of Labour has laid charges against Detour Gold in relation to the death of 52-year-old millwright Dennis Millette, who died at their Cochrane mine a year ago of cyanide poisoning.
Almost all the charges against the company are for failing to ensure safety protocols, three unnamed individuals — all of them supervisors — have also been charged with failing to ensure Millette’s safety.
According to the charges, Millette was exposed to the sodium cyanide solution that mines use to separate gold particles from the rock. The exposure apparently was caused by a broken valve on the in-line leach reactor that the millwright had been working on. On top of that, the antidote for cyanide poisoning, which could have saved Millette’s life, was not stored in a place where it could be easily found in the area where he was exposed.
As a result, Detour Gold has been charged with 14 violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. One charge was for not ensuring that the faulty valve on the reactor had been maintained in good condition.
Another charge was for not ensuring Millette wore protective gear while working in an area where he could have been exposed to sodium cyanide.
Detour allegedly failed to make sure the reactor was safe to work on by dissipating the “gravity-stored energy,” before Millette began working on it. Also, no “energy isolating devices” had been installed on the leach reactor’s discharge when work was being done on it.
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