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Gravel quarry explosion injures three

28 September 2011

The British Columbian chief inspector of mines is investigating an explosion at a gravel operation on Vancouver Island that caused serious injuries to one employee and minor injuries to two others.

The British Columbian chief inspector of mines is investigating an explosion at a gravel operation on Vancouver Island that caused serious injuries to one employee and minor injuries to two others
The British Columbian chief inspector of mines is investigating an explosion at a gravel operation on Vancouver Island that caused serious injuries to one employee and minor injuries to two others

The incident occurred at Mid-Island Aggregate, a gravel company near Shawnigan Lake. Three employees were injured when a dynamite blast went wrong and sent baseball-sized chunks of rock flying approximately 400 to 500 metres.

“We are gravely concerned about the well being of the injured,” said Randy Thiessen, CFO at Mid-Island Aggregate. “We have taken steps to undertake an internal investigation and have retained engineering professionals to provide us with a report. Additionally, we are co-operating with all government agencies and their current investigations.

“Within the quarry, we have employees doing various functions,” added Thiessen. “When there is a blast, they all move into a safe area.”

Despite these precautions, a woman in her 50s had her arm severed below the elbow, after a rock hit her right arm, as she made an effort to shield herself from the debris.

Two men were also hit, when they tried to take cover under an excavator. One man suffered head injuries and it is believed that he could have been killed if he wasn’t wearing a hard hat. The third employee’s injuries were more minor but all three were taken to Victoria General Hospital.

It is understood that when the charge was set, the three workers were expecting the debris to fly high in the air and fall to earth, as they watched from a ‘safe zone’ about 200 metres away.

However, when the explosives detonated, a shower of jagged rock came hurtling towards them.

“The debris did not fly in an arcing pattern. The explosion was severe enough that it flew horizontally,” said Peter Thiessen, the company’s chief financial officer. “That is not a normal situation.”

Inspectors from the Ministry of Energy and Mines are investigating the incident and Mid-Island Aggregates has launched an internal probe.

“As with any incident like this, the ministry takes these matters very seriously and we review the circumstances involved,” said Jake Jacobs, spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy & Mines. “A mine inspector will work with the company to determine the cause of this accident. It will take a few days to collect the information and then it will have to be analysed by a blasting expert. We will then review the report and write our own report with recommendations.”


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