Adjournment of Coroner's Inquest into Lakeland Mills Explosion to Consider "New Evidence" Furthers Need for Public Inquiry

BURNABY, BC, March 25 2015 /CNW/ - Today's adjournment of the Coroner's Inquest into the deaths of two workers in the explosion at Lakeland Mills only provides further support for the United Steelworkers (USW) call for an independent public inquiry into the circumstances that led to the explosions at both Babine and Lakeland Sawmills.

New evidence at this late date and the admission by WorkSafeBC that it refused to consider or review Lakeland Mills private investigation only provides further support for a public inquiry to investigate both the Babine and Lakeland Mills explosions, says USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

Earlier this week the United Steelworkers announced that it had lost confidence in the Coroner's Inquest and was withdrawing from the Inquest into the explosion at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, B.C.

Unfortunately the Coroner's Inquest has limited the examination and production of all necessary documents and information needed to be successful. 

"Injured workers, family members of those killed on the job and all workers in the sawmilling industry need to have answers to why these explosion happened. Until that happens, how will workers have confidence in the safety systems supposedly in place to protect them today?" says Hunt.

While Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe committed to a thorough review of the causes and contributing factors of the explosion, it's become clear the limitations of an inquest will not allow this to happen.

"Over the past week, the inquest has heard how WorkSafeBC's failure to carry out its mandate to ensure the health and safety of workers resulted in a complete mishandling of sawmill safety both before and after the explosion. Despite this tragic failure to do its job, the agency is not being held accountable," Hunt says.

"How is it possible that despite WorkSafeBC's claim of conducting the most thorough and exhaustive investigations in their history, more evidence is still coming to light, while other documents are withheld and receive no scrutiny from the Coroner's Jury or the public?" Hunt asks.

The USW continues to join family members, First Nations and the larger community in calling for a public inquiry.

 

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-816-2554; Brad West, USW Communications, 604-313-9185, bwest@usw.ca

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