What was Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) doing at the
fly ash plant in Goose Bay two weeks ago? Did the Inspector order it closed, as
a local source — a former worker — reports?
in operation again within a day or two.
project. The operation is housed in an old hangar near the Goose Bay Airport. The
building is reportedly in poor condition and, according to the former worker,
unsuitable for its current use given the toxic nature of fly ash.
replacement for) Portland cement to improve a particular property of concrete (e.g.
to obtain slow hardening) or to restrict a specific chemical reaction. It is a by-product of pulverized coal and this
source believes that, based upon product data sheets, the ash contains a high percentage
|Old hangar near Goose Bay Airport hosts silica fly ash operation|
Research shows that initial exposure to silica dust may cause
irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. However, excessive amounts breathed over
a period of time can cause damage to lung tissue.
discovering a number of safety and building violations. “An industrial
hygienist showed up from ServiceNL, shut it down and placed red DANGER tape on
the door”, he said.
The plant employs 6 to 8 workers per shift.
entering the premises for even a short time become covered with the dust kicked
up by the machine that de-bags and processes the fly ash.
The building also recently suffered a collapse in the roof
but just one.” He stated that workers had long complained that “the building
contained no ventilation and not even a washroom or standard eyewash and
emergency shower facilities.”
plant but said he was surprised when he heard that it was allowed to re-open
within a day or so. “On Friday you have a red tape closing of the facility by
inspectors and the next day it’s back open. How were the deficiencies remedied
so quickly?” he asked. “It’s not as if OH&S works on weekends,” he added with
a laugh, “or that the deficiencies could be fixed within hours.”
The former employee stated that his biggest concern was
whether the dust masks worn by the workers gave them adequate protection. He
said he still worries about his breathing.
workers were issued a new type of dust mask before the building was re-entered.
representative to confirm the source’s story, determine if OH&S had allowed
the operation to reopen, and confirm if the deficiencies cited by the former worker
had been addressed. The call to the inspector — an industrial hygienist — was
The Grand River Keepers have obtained confirmation that
waste fly ash — i.e. material that got wet and is unusable because it has hardened —
is sent to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay landfill.
|Full bag silica fly ash -HV-GB Landfill|
|Empty and full bags silica fly ash – HV-GB Landfill|
An environmental engineer contacted by this Blog suggests that
the Town ought to have an analysis completed to determine if the material should
be accepted at the landfill or if it requires segregation. He suggested that
the quantities and the level of silica content would be key features of any
immediately available. However, the Grand River Keepers representative who spoke
with Town officials stated that they seemed aware only that empty bags in which
the silica ash was shipped went to the landfill not that the dump also periodically
takes in large quantities of the industrial product.
The OH&S action gives credibility to several workers’
claims that Nalcor has been a consistently poor manager of safe work practices.
adherence to safe practices and procedures, not after — but before — a contract begins, which is the industry standard.
Considering the deficiencies in the old hangar described by
the former worker, Nalcor needs to state whether it certified this industrial
facility in the course of implementing its health and safety program, taking
into account the toxic nature of the product being processed.
by the current workforce have been upgraded, does that mean that those which
had been previously issued to the workers were sub-standard?
In addition, OH&S ought to clarify its procedures, because
most operations don’t get to re-open until every major deficiency has been
remedied. In addition, we need to ask if Nalcor was advised of the plant’s
closure and if the Corporation still approves of what seemingly has all the
characteristics of a third world operation.
first world practices are beyond its scope to enforce. Will Nalcor clarify its
role in approving this operation or is this another one of those “commercially
sensitive” matters, too?
Gnarley Blog to state that, just recently, “another contract… was shut down (this
time by Nalcor) because they weren’t vetted from a safety perspective.”
only took place once work STARTED, not beforehand.”
site was suspended pending an investigation into “irregular reporting”. The
broadcaster quoted Nalcor’s statement that “actions” have been taken to deal
with irregular reporting allegations.
minute” needs a lot more time.