Nova Scotia

Family of Cape Breton man killed in Nexen explosion want answers

The family of a Nova Scotia man killed in an explosion in Alberta earlier this year is questioning how and why he died.

David Williams died after an explosion at the oil plant in Fort McMurray, Alta.

David Williams and another co-worker were killed in an oil plant explosion in January. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The family of a man killed in an explosion in Alberta earlier this year is questioning how and why he died. 

David Williams, 30, of Scotchtown, N.S., died after an explosion at the Nexen Long Lake Project in Fort McMurray, Alta., in January.

Drew Foster, 52, was also killed. The two men were performing maintenance work at the time of the explosion.

Williams's brother says the company is blaming the dead workers for causing the explosion and he wants their names cleared.

"It's disrespectful," said Archie Williams. "It's sickening what they're doing. I mean these guys, my brother and the co-worker, they're not even here to defend themselves."

Internal investigation submitted

The view from a helicopter after the explosion. (CBC)

The company says it submitted an internal investigation report to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety and said it could not comment until the government's investigation is completed.

During a news conference Ron Bailey, Nexen's senior vice-president of Canadian operations, said the incident was a result of "work being performed outside the scope of approved work activities."

In January, Nexen said Williams and Foster were refitting valves on a compressor at the facility, which converts hydrocarbon into a lighter oil. Williams, a journeyman millwright from Scotchtown in Cape Breton suffered third-degree burns to 90 per cent of the front of his body. 

'Who put him there?'

David William's brother, Archie, says he wants to know why his brother was refitting valves on a compressor at the Nexen facility — something that was outside of his expertise. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Archie Williams says the work was outside of the two men's expertise, but his brother had won numerous safety awards and wouldn't have worked without a permit. 

"One of the first things that should be investigated is why he was put in this area and who put him there and that's something they would not answer," said Williams.

"He is used to working in a water plant like a water-treatment plant, not basically in a hydrogen plant. It's not his area, he's never worked there before. Like he shouldn't [ever have] been put there," said Williams. 

'...hard thing to lose a child'

David William's mother, Bernice, says she thinks about her son all the time. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

David's mother, Bernice Williams, said she wants answers about her son's death. She said she thinks about her son all the time. 

"It a hard, hard thing to lose a child," she said. "I think about it morning, noon and night. It's in my head, it doesn't go away. What do they feel? What if they lost one of their children? How would they feel? ."

With files from Gary Mansfield