New Brunswick

Irving Oil charged in connection with refinery explosion last year

WorkSafeNB says three charges have been laid against Irving companies in connection with the explosion that happened almost exactly one year ago at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

WorkSafeNB lays 3 charges under Occupational Health and Safety Act

The flames and plume of black smoke towered over the stacks at the Irving Oil refinery after a blast last October. (Submitted by Doug McLean)

WorkSafeNB says three charges have been laid against Irving companies in connection with the explosion that happened almost exactly one year ago at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

One charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act was laid against Irving Oil Limited and two charges were laid against the employer, Irving Oil Refining GP on Oct. 1.

WorkSafeNB says it will not release its final investigation report on the incident nor comment on its findings, as a result of these charges being laid.

The refinery explosion shook east Saint John on Thanksgiving weekend last year.

Almost 3,000 people were working on site as a massive maintenance project was underway.

It took weeks for WorkSafeNB investigators to gain access to some parts of the refinery that had burned for days.



In an update with CBC News last January, assistant director of investigations Eric Brideau said more than five employees and contractors filed claims for worker compensation benefits.

In October, Horizon Health said five people were treated in hospital, and a Saint John family doctor has said they treated several other workers in the following days.

At that time, WorkSafeNB had been concentrating on pipes inside a diesel-treating unit where the explosion started.

"It's certainly one of those pipes that failed," he told Information Morning Saint John in an interview Jan. 11. "So the theory, or what we're trying to get at is, which one of those [caused the explosion]?

"And from there, what's in those vessels that could contribute to the failure?"

Duties of owner

According to WorkSafeNB, Irving Oil is charged under subsection 11(b) of the act under duties of owner: Every owner of a place of employment or part thereof shall take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of any person having access to or using that place of employment or part thereof.

Irving Oil Refining GP is charged under subsections 9 (1)(a) of the act: Every employer shall take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of his employees.

Irving Oil Refining GP is also charged under subsection 68(b) as it relates to piping and apparatus for hazardous substances.

An employer shall ensure that piping and apparatus for a hazardous substance is maintained in safe operating condition and regularly inspected, it states.

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