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Companies charged in deaths of two oilsands workers - 53 charges laid against Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Company Ltd., and SSEC Canada Ltd.

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Date

2009-04-21

Authors

Kelly Cryderman

Newspaper title

The Calgary Herald

Full text

Liu Ruijuan and her six-year-old daughter Ge Ge, family of Ge Genbao, a welder killed in Fort McMurray last year.

Two years after two temporary foreign workers from China died in a construction accident at the Horizon oilsands site, the Alberta government has laid 53 charges against Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Company Ltd., and SSEC Canada Ltd.

“To the best of our recollection at Occupational Health and Safety, we’ve never seen as many charges being laid in relation to a single incident,” Alberta Employment and Immigration spokesman Barrie Harrison said Tuesday.

A separate Alberta Employment and Immigration investigation has also revealed that 132 temporary foreign workers on the same project, and also from China, did not receive any wages between April and July of 2007, Harrison said.

Those workers returned to China almost two years ago.

Although the wages are owed by the Horizon site contractor, SSEC Canada Ltd., Harrison said Canadian Natural Resources has given the provincial government $3.17 million to distribute to the workers. The department has until 2017 to locate the workers and give them each thousands in unpaid earnings.

On April 24, 2007, Chinese welder and scaffolder Genbao Ge, 27, died when a roof structure collapsed during the construction of a large steel storage tank at the Horizon oilsands project near Fort McKay — about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. Electrical engineer Hongliang Lui, 33, also died in the wreck. Five other employees were injured, two seriously.

The charges laid Tuesday include several counts for failing to ensure the health and safety of the workers.

Other charges include failing to ensure that a professional engineer prepared and certified drawings and procedures, failing to ensure the roof support structure inside the tank was stable during assembly, failing to ensure that U-bolt type clips used for fastening rope wire were installed properly, and failing to ensure that wire rope being used was safe.

The first court appearance for all three companies will be June 8 in Fort McMurray provincial court. The maximum fine for each charge is $500,000.

Canadian Natural Resources has reported that Horizon, the fourth major mining project to be launched in Alberta’s oilsands region, began operating at the end of February.

Keywords

health, safety, investigation, deaths

Economic sectors

Construction trades helpers and labourers and Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Geographical focuses

Alberta

Languages

English