No charges from Burns Lake mill explosion

Crown prosecutors have decided not to lay charges in relation to the explosion and fire that destroyed the Babine sawmill

Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake Jan. 20

Crown prosecutors have decided not to lay charges against Babine Forest Products or its employees in relation to the explosion and fire that destroyed the company’s Burns Lake sawmill and killed two workers.

The B.C. government’s criminal justice branch announced Friday that lawyers concluded there is “no substantial likelihood of a conviction for any of the regulatory offences recommended by WorkSafeBC.”

A province-wide program of sawmill dust inspections has been in place since the Babine mill explosion in January 2012 and a similar blast at Lakeland Mills in Prince George three months later.

The case was referred to prosecutors for charge assessment after a WorkSafeBC investigation found that the most likely fuel source for the two explosions was fine, dry dust, which increases when mills cut dry trees killed by beetles. The likely ignition source in both cases was motor and gear assemblies running waste conveyors in low, confined areas of the mills subject to heavy dust accumulation.

Prosecutors found that there was evidence to support charges, but the mill owners have a defence of “due diligence” available to them that would likely prevent a conviction in court.

Criminal justice branch officials began meetings Friday in Burns Lake with the injured workers and the families of the two men who died, to explain the decision.

After negotiating timber supply agreements with the province, Babine’s Oregon-based owner Hampton Affiliates decided to rebuild.

Last fall, West Fraser announced it will close its sawmill in nearby Houston in March. The company traded timber cutting rights with Canfor Corp., which is closing its sawmill in Quesnel as the region adjusts to the loss of timber from the beetle epidemic.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Uptick in calls to Haven Society crisis line as restrictions ease

Organization reminds people of their range of services

ICET provides Qualicum Beach with $250K for East Village project

Town expects revitalization plan to attract more developments

COVID-19: Garage sales should follow mass gathering guidelines

City has received variety of queries on the issue

Parksville’s ‘Support Local’ parade celebrates businesses

Approximately 30 vehicles turn out for event

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read