United Steelworkers is slamming the Government of Ontario, the attorney general and police for not pursuing a criminal investigation into the April 6, 2014, death of Paul Rochette and the critical injury of Justin Stewart at Vale Ltd.’s Copper Cliff Smelter.
The union is calling out the parties for allowing Vale to enter a plea Monday in the Ontario Court of Justice on several charges laid in 2015 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Vale was fined $1 million after pleading guilty to four charges, and supervisor Greg Taylor was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to a single charge.
Vale had been facing nine charges and Taylor three. Two other supervisors had five charges between them. All charges but the ones to which Vale and Taylor pleaded, 12 in all, were withdrawn so no trial was held.
The Rochette family and Stewart expressed anger and disappointment Monday on the steps of the Sudbury Courthouse that the full details of the incident were not presented publicly in a court of law.
The original charges were laid in March 2015 after a year-long Ministry of Labour investigation into the deaths of Rochette, 36, and the serious injury of Stewart, then 28.
The men were using acetylene torches to remove a moil point weighing more than 100 pounds from the jaws of a Farrell crusher in which it was stuck. The heat softened the moil point and reduced friction, propelling it from the compression of the crusher jaws. The piece of metal flew off hitting and killing Rochette and injuring Stewart.
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