Testimony resumes in First Nickel, Taurus Drilling case

The trial against First Nickel and Taurus Drilling resumed on Tuesday in Sudbury, Ont. Court heard excessive water posed safety issues for workers, but the former supervisor claims he never received any reports on the matter.

Court heard excessive water posed safety issues for workers, supervisor claims no reports were made

First Nickel operated the Lockerby Mine in Sudbury, Ont., until 2015 when the company went into receivership. (First Nickel Inc.)

The amount of water in First Nickel's Lockerby mine in Sudbury. Ont., was unprecedented for Wade Johnson.

"Everywhere I went, there was water," the former supervisor told court on Tuesday.

"I've never seen that much water in a mine."

Johnson has worked in the mining industry for 45 years. He was supervising the night shift on May 6, 2014, when 49-year-old Norm Bissaillon and 34-year-old Marc Methe were killed. Johnson was cross-examined on Tuesday when the trial against First Nickel and Taurus Drilling resumed.

Both First Nickel and Taurus Drilling are facing a total of 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Crown dropped one charge against Taurus at the beginning of the trial.

First Nickel went into receivership in 2015, and is not represented in court. Taurus Drilling was purchased by Major Drilling International in 2014 and is now a numbered company, 1370918AULC.

'Your boots would get soaked'

Court heard earlier in the day, there was a problem with the pump system that takes water from the depths up and out of the mine. That resulted in a large store of water on a level directly above where the two victims were working that night.

Trevor Gosselin, a former supervisor and the man who was initially supposed to be working with Methe, told the court the pump system had problems for almost a year before the incident.

He said no one wanted to go into that area near the water store because they felt it was unsafe and "your boots would get soaked."

Gosselin said he raised the issue with his superiors several times, but "nothing was ever done to alleviate those issues."

'Should have had more information'

​Johnson told the court that no worker or supervisor ever came to him with concerns about the excessive water. He also mentioned he was unaware of a Ministry of Labour visit just weeks before to investigate a previous fall of ground.

When shown a copy of the ministry's report, Johnson said it must have been posted somewhere, but he didn't see it.

When David McCaskill, the lawyer representing the Ministry, asked Johnson if he was qualified to be the mine's supervisor, Johnson said "I should have had more information, that's for sure."

The trial is expected to continue with the cross examination of the manager of Lockerby mine.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were 13 charges against both companies.