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Teck Metals fined $55,000 for ammonia leak in Trail

The latest work site violation from April follows a $646K WorkSafeBC penalty in May 2019
Since 2019, WorkSafeBC has slapped Teck Metals with two work site penalties collectively totalling $701,362. Photo: Trail Times

Teck Metals was fined $55,060 for a work site infraction last month, making this the second costly penalty at Trail operations since 2019.

The latest fine imposed by the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia (WorkSafeBC) at the Trail smelter is dated April 14, but stems from an occurrence in March 2021.

Agency inspectors were called in response to an incident involving the work site spill of liquid anhydrous ammonia, a substance defined as a colourless non-flammable liquefied gas with the same pungent odour as household ammonia.

WorkSafeBC reports the ammonia was released when a loss of containment occurred from a rail car in an unloading area on smelter property.

The site and adjacent workplaces were evacuated, however the compensation board reports that several people were exposed to ammonia vapour.

WorkSafeBC determined that the company had not adequately communicated or trained its workers in safe work procedures for identifying and responding to ammonia leaks.

The agency reports that inadequate training included a lack of practice drills and supervision for all workers involved in ammonia-related work.

WorkSafeBC says the company failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.

This was deemed a high-risk violation.

Teck Metals was previously fined $646,300 following a work-site inspection of zinc production operations on May 22, 2019.

During the inspection, the agency says a worker was observed walking through an energized equipment area to operate a control panel. No barrier or other safeguard was in place as required to prevent worker access through this hazardous area.

WorkSafeBC says the company failed to ensure equipment was fitted with adequate safeguards to ensure workers could not access hazardous points of operation.

The agency reports this as “a repeated and high-risk violation.”

The Trail Times asked a WorkSafeBC spokesperson how the agency comes up with a dollar value for various infractions.

“The amount of a penalty is usually based on the size of the employer’s payroll, and the nature of the violation,” the spokesperson replied. “Penalties can be larger if certain specific factors are present, such as for high-risk or intentional circumstances, or if the employer has received a penalty about a substantially similar violation in the past three years.”

Based on the summary available it appears the 2019 violation was a repeat one.

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Sheri Regnier

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