News

WorkSafe Alberni mill fire investigation ongoing

More than 30 employees expect to be back to work next week after a fire closed the bag house at Western Forest Products Alberni Pacific Division mill in November.

A fire in the bag house portion of the mill on Nov. 22 closed the area and displaced more than 30 workers, United Steelworkers member Scott Loudon said.

The fire was located in the sawdust cyclone, or bag house portion of the mill. Sawdust and wood chips are collected from throughout the mill and deposited via ducting and conveyor belt into the bag house.

The facility is expected to be up and running and the employees back to work on Monday, Dec. 10, Loudon added.

WorkSafe investigators were accompanied by employee representatives Loudon and Paul Brassard as they conducted their investigation at the mill last week.

A WorkSafe inspection report dated Nov. 28 focuses on replacing couplings and bearings related to an auger in the bag house. It also requires APD staff to have the structural integrity of catwalks and supporting integrity systems certified by a professional engineer before the facility can reopen.

“They took some parts away to be inspected. I don't think they're finished yet, though,” Loudon said.

WorkSafe spokesperson Megan Johnston confirmed that that investigators concluded their onsite investigation, but that no cause had been determined yet. “We won't have any comment until the investigation is complete,” Johnston said.

An WorkSafe investigation report dated Dec. 3 though states that “...further enforcement action is not necessary at this time.”

The Port Alberni Fire Department meanwhile has completed its investigation and the cause appears to be mechanical, deputy chief Chris Jancowski said. “It was an issue in the lower assembly area,” he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

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