Industrial accident at Castlegar’s Celgar pulp mill

No one injured when chip dumper collapsed; investigation underway

In this screen grab from a 2011 Youtube video, the Celgar chip dumper lifts a transport truck to remove the load of wood chips. Video by roserugosa

In this screen grab from a 2011 Youtube video, the Celgar chip dumper lifts a transport truck to remove the load of wood chips. Video by roserugosa

Investigators are at the scene of a weekend accident at the Mercer Celgar plant in Castlegar that could affect the plant’s production.

An official with the pulp mill says the chip dumper at the plant collapsed on Sunday.

Mercer Celgar Castlegar spokeswoman Rose Leslie says no one was injured in the accident.

“As per usual, anytime we have any sort of incident we have [Worksafe BC] on site, and they look at it, and they are always involved in our next steps,” Leslie told the Castlegar News.

The chip dumper essentially takes a transport truck filled with wood chips and hydraulically lifts it so it is standing on its end. That allows the wood chips to fall out of the transport, and be fed by a conveyor system into the pulp plant’s operations.

Leslie couldn’t say how old the chip dumper was, the cause of the accident, the extent of the damage, or how long it might take to get the dumper back in operation. She says all those things are part of the current investigation.

The loss of the chip dumper could halt the ability for the plant to accept deliveries of wood chips for pulp production.

However, the Mercer Celgar plant is currently on a maintenance shutdown, so the full impact of the accident may not be known for some time. Mercer Celgar employs about 400 workers, and accepts wood chips from a number of sources in the West Kootenay.

The plant resumes operation Oct. 19.

The company website says it is one of the largest and most modern single-line kraft pulp mills in North America.