Canadian company fined $218K for fatal 2014 explosion
12 April 2018
On October 25, 2014, an explosion of aluminum dust in a collector outside a Veolia Environmental Services facility in Sarnia, Ontario, was vented inside where it killed one worker and injured five others. Failure to get approval for changes the company made to the dust collector involved resulted in a $218,000 penalty for the company.
The company pled guilty on April 12 in an Ontario court to altering a dust collector without getting environment ministry approval, thereby allowing release of a contaminant.
A joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers for a $175,000 fine was accepted by Justice Mark Hornblower. An automatic victim surcharge increased the financial penalty to $218,750.
According to the London Free Press, workers had been spraying pipes with molten aluminum as an anti-corrosion treatment. Dust resulted from overspray.
Following imposition of the fine, the labour ministry withdrew Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against Veolia and a company manager, Anthony Lavoratore. The ministry had delayed prosecution until completion of Criminal Code charges of criminal negligence against Veolia and Lavoratore.
In January, the company and Lavoratore were acquitted of the charges, following a trial that had been spread over a year.
In the acquittal decision, Justice Deborah Austin said there were mistakes, errors and omissions attributable to the defendants that clearly constituted negligence, but it was not proven to the high degree required for criminal negligence.
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