Safety first

Safety warn­ings is­sued to Donkin Mine.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONTGOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­

Govern­ment of­fi­cials say 10 com­pli­ance or­ders and 29 warn­ings is­sued to the Donkin Mine were mostly “non-im­mi­nent dan­ger” vi­o­la­tions.

“No lives were ever at risk as a re­sult of any of these vi­o­la­tions,” said Scott Nauss, the se­nior di­rec­tor of in­spec­tion and com­pli­ance with the Nova Sco­tia Labour De­part­ment’s oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety di­vi­sion, re­gard­ing the warn­ings is­sued dur­ing the mine’s first three and a half months of op­er­a­tion.

It is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine if the num­ber of vi­o­la­tions is high be­cause this is the first mine op­er­at­ing un­der new pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions, Nauss said.

“I would ex­pect a large op­er­a­tion like this, op­er­at­ing in a heav­ily reg­u­lated en­vi­ron­ment, there will be some non-im­mi­nent dan­ger vi­o­la­tions along the way and that’s for the most part what we are see­ing,” he said.

“The com­pany ap­pears to be very com­mit­ted to safety from what we see. We point out vi­o­la­tions and they ad­dress them quickly.”

The Donkin Mine is owned by Kameron Col­lieries, a Halifax sub­sidiary of the Cline Group. Pro­duc­tion be­gan in Fe­bru­ary.

The oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety di­vi­sion pro­vided a copy of the work­place in­spec­tions at the mine to the Cape Bre­ton Post.

Is­sues iden­ti­fied in­cluded wa­ter bar­ri­ers not meet­ing code in the event of an emer­gency evac­u­a­tion, bump checks not com­pleted as well as im­proper record keep­ing.

Nauss said the only im­mi­nent dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion oc­curred March 22 dur­ing an ice storm when a power out­age im­pacted the mine’s ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem.

When the power goes out, the mine is evac­u­ated and a backup gen­er­a­tor should kick in how­ever the backup gen­er­a­tor had not been com­mis­sioned by Nova Sco­tia Power, a re­quire­ment un­der the elec­tri­cal code.

“The stop work or­der was as­so­ci­ated with (the power out­age),” said Nauss, adding lives were not at risk be­cause the mine had been evac­u­ated be­fore the backup gen­er­a­tor should have started op­er­at­ing.

“The mine (of­fi­cials have) been very co-op­er­a­tive up to this point and have com­plied with all our or­ders.”

Nauss con­firmed there has only been one in­jury at the mine — a con­trac­tor who hurt his an­kle and re­turned to work the fol­low­ing day.

Nauss said mines are in­spected reg­u­larly and most times in­spec­tors ar­rive unan­nounced.

“We take this very se­ri­ously as it’s a high risk en­vi­ron­ment. The only mines we want op­er­at­ing in Nova Sco­tia are safe mines.”

Donkin Mine man­ager Shannon Camp­bell said when an in­spec­tor comes to the site they are mak­ing sure the mine is play­ing by the rules.

“If they find some­thing I thank them as I don’t want to not play by the rules,” he said.

Camp­bell said it’s highly un­likely that a vi­o­la­tion will not be found dur­ing an in­spec­tion.

“Given the fact reg­u­la­tions for a sub­sea un­der­ground coal mine are much more strin­gent than a reg­u­lar coal mine, it’s not un­ex­pected to have that many com­pli­ance or­ders.

“If they say ‘you can do bet­ter’ and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion for me it’s a gift.”

There are ap­prox­i­mately 70 work­ers at the mine as well as var­i­ous con­trac­tors.

Camp­bell said the safety of the men and the equip­ment is the com­pany’s first pri­or­ity.

“We strive for zero com­pli­ance is­sues but I’ve been in the busi­ness long enough to know if we’re go­ing to start a mine we’re not go­ing to not have some learn­ing and im­prove­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

“It’s a new coal mine, new op­er­a­tions and a new min­ing method and I feel proud of where we are right now.”

Since op­er­a­tions be­gan with the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the mine in 2015 no Kameron em­ployee has had a loss time ac­ci­dent.

Steve Drake worked in the coal mine in­dus­try for 23 years in­clud­ing as an industrial elec­tri­cian at the Lin­gan Mine and pro­vid­ing elec­tri­cal safety in­spec­tions for Labour Canada.

“I had to do daily, weekly and monthly re­ports for Labour Canada,” said Drake, who also served as pres­i­dent of Dis­trict 26 United Minework­ers of Amer­ica.

“I know a lot about safety un­der­ground. With what I’ve read in news re­ports about the safety in­frac­tions at Donkin Mine I would have no prob­lem trav­el­ling un­der­ground at Donkin Mine. The ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity is up to the min­ers they al­ways have the right to refuse.”


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