No charges from Burns Lake mill explosion

Crown prosecutors have decided not to lay charges in relation to the explosion and fire that destroyed the Babine sawmill

Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake Jan. 20

Crown prosecutors have decided not to lay charges against Babine Forest Products or its employees in relation to the explosion and fire that destroyed the company’s Burns Lake sawmill and killed two workers.

The B.C. government’s criminal justice branch announced Friday that lawyers concluded there is “no substantial likelihood of a conviction for any of the regulatory offences recommended by WorkSafeBC.”

A province-wide program of sawmill dust inspections has been in place since the Babine mill explosion in January 2012 and a similar blast at Lakeland Mills in Prince George three months later.

The case was referred to prosecutors for charge assessment after a WorkSafeBC investigation found that the most likely fuel source for the two explosions was fine, dry dust, which increases when mills cut dry trees killed by beetles. The likely ignition source in both cases was motor and gear assemblies running waste conveyors in low, confined areas of the mills subject to heavy dust accumulation.

Prosecutors found that there was evidence to support charges, but the mill owners have a defence of “due diligence” available to them that would likely prevent a conviction in court.

Criminal justice branch officials began meetings Friday in Burns Lake with the injured workers and the families of the two men who died, to explain the decision.

After negotiating timber supply agreements with the province, Babine’s Oregon-based owner Hampton Affiliates decided to rebuild.

Last fall, West Fraser announced it will close its sawmill in nearby Houston in March. The company traded timber cutting rights with Canfor Corp., which is closing its sawmill in Quesnel as the region adjusts to the loss of timber from the beetle epidemic.

 

Just Posted

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Second hospital road part of plan, says Trail mayor

Martin was in Whistler last week for the UBCM; city delegation met with health ministry

Participation by women in West Kootenay/Boundary elections up slightly

More running than in 2014, but about same number as 2011

Syringa Creek fire ‘being held’

The fire has burned 3193 hectares; Deer Creek fire is also “being held” at 3849 hectares

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read