More Flin Flon smelter workers testify at inquest
Three more employees of the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting facility in Flin Flon have taken the stand in the inquest into the death of their co-worker, Steve Ewing.
Ewing died and 13 other employees were injured after an explosion at the smelter in August 2000.
- CBC INDEPTH: Flin Flon Explosion
Fred Ledoux took the stand Wednesday afternoon to face questioning from inquest lawyer Marty Minuk and lawyers from HBM&S, its unions , and the province's Workplace Health and Safety division.
Ledoux described what happens when a cold metal bar is inserted into the molten metal, or "matt." He said the matt explodes; he'd witnessed it happening before.
However, he said he did not question a supervisor who directed him to spray water around the furnace before the area was completely cooled.
One exit locked: employee
Another employee, Brad Russell, took the stand Thursday morning. The 22-year-old was working as a summer student at HBM&S when the accident happened. Under questioning from Minuk, Russell explained that before the explosion, he was hosing down a plate floor to clean sand off it in preparation for the scheduled shutdown.
Russell said he heard a very loud rumble and turned to see nothing but black smoke and dust coming his way. He ran to get away, but got knocked off his feet. He then backed into a corner, curled into a ball to protect himself and waited until the noise stopped.
Russell said after trying one exit door and finding it locked, he finally made it outside.
Russell said he ended up suffering burns to 65 per cent of his body. He was sent to a hospital Edmonton because there was no room at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
He was in hospital for nine weeks and in rehabilitation for five weeks in Edmonton.
Saved by lunch room: worker
Thursday afternoon, Steve Pickering, who worked as a matt capper until the explosion, took the stand. Pickering was not hurt in the blast because he was on break in a nearby lunch room when it happened.
He told the inquest he heard a couple of pops, then one big explosion which shook the walls. He said he knew something happened when he saw thick, black dust.
Pickering said he climbed through a lunch room window, into a washroom, then used its door to get out. He was still in the smelter, but soon found his way outside. He said the lunch room saved him from getting hurt.
Minuk then asked Pickering what he did for work after the explosion; he said he transferred out of the smelter. When asked if he would work in the smelter again, Pickering bluntly replied, "Hell no! I was not going back to work in the smelter."
Later, a union lawyer asked Pickering what he thought about the shutdown. Pickering said he felt it was had been a little rushed.
A company lawyer also wanted to ask Pickering questions, but there was not enough time. The judge adjourned the inquest and asked Pickering to come back when the proceedings resume on Tuesday.