COME BY CHANCE, N.L. – The United Steelworkers union (USW) is calling on the RCMP’s Major Crimes Unit to launch a criminal investigation into the catastrophic explosion on Sept. 2 at the Braya Renewable Fuels refinery in Come By Chance.
The union, which represents hundreds of workers at the refinery, also is urging the Newfoundland and Labrador government to launch a formal inquiry into the disaster, which killed one worker and injured seven others.
Shawn Peddle, a refinery worker and member of USW Local 9316, died in hospital on Saturday, Oct. 15, six weeks after suffering critical injuries in the explosion.
“Our union, our members and families and our community are heartbroken,” said Glenn Nolan, USW Local 9316 president.
“We believe this tragedy was preventable,” Nolan said. “We have called on the RCMP to conduct a criminal investigating of this explosion, under terms of the Westray Law and all other Criminal Code provisions.”
The Westray Law amended the Criminal Code in 2004 to provide for criminal prosecution of employers in cases of negligence causing workplace deaths and injuries. The USW is leading a nation-wide campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, advocating for greater enforcement of such Criminal Code provisions.
“We can’t allow for workplace deaths and injuries to be normalized, and for the consequences of preventable tragedies to be no more than paying a fine,” said Myles Sullivan, the USW’s Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.
“Our union believes all workers have the right to come home safely from their jobs, every day. We are calling on the RCMP to commit all the resources necessary to investigate the catastrophe at the Come By Chance refinery under a criminal lens and ensure all applicable Criminal Code provisions are enforced,” Sullivan said.
“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and colleagues of Shawn Peddle and all of the injured workers. They all deserve to see that justice is done and that there will be real accountability and meaningful action taken by authorities,” he added.
The USW is calling on the provincial government to launch a public inquiry into the Sept. 2 disaster “to get to the bottom of what happened, to ensure it never happens again,” Nolan said.
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