Vancouver Sun

Wood pellet plant burn victim moved to VGH


A man who suffered third- degree burns in an explosion at a wood pellet plant in Burns Lake Thursday has been transferre­d to Vancouver General Hospital’s burn unit, a spokesman for Northern Health Authority said Friday.

Two other employees who received minor injuries in the explosion have been discharged after being taken to the University Hospital of Northern B. C. in Prince George for further checkups, added Jonathon Dyck.

Leroy Reitsma, president of the Pinnacle Renewable Energy plant, said a “fire- related incident” happened at the Burns Lake mill, located on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake, at about 8 a. m. Thursday. He said the fire broke out inside some equipment used to dry wood fibre and it caused an explosion. The explosion happened during a routine maintenanc­e shutdown, Reitsma said, and the company is working with WorkSafeBC to investigat­e how it occured.

Pinnacle has been fined on several occasions for safety issues. In May, the pellet plant in Burns Lake was fined $ 48,483 for a failed safety inspection in December related to combustibl­e dust, while its plant in Strathnave­r south of Prince George was fined $ 36,223, also for safety lapses. Its plant in Quesnel was fined $ 31,380 following an inspection in May.

The fines were revealed in August in a Vancouver Sun report based on a freedom of informatio­n request that showed seven of 10 wood pellet manufactur­ers failed WorkSafeBC inspection­s. The Burns Lake plant was last inspected on June 17, and no problems were found.

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