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28 charges laid in tailings pond death bring renewed grief to victim’s family

28 charges laid in tailings pond death bring renewed grief to victim’s family

The mother and father of a 25-year-old oilsands employee who died in a frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta say prices within the case reveal disturbing particulars about security failures on web site. 

Suncor and Christina River Development face a complete of 28 prices beneath the Alberta Occupational Well being and Security Act within the demise of Patrick Poitras.

Poitras was working a bulldozer on Jan. 13, 2021, at Suncor’s base mine about 30 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, when the ice beneath the machine gave manner.

Three days later, his physique was pulled from the pond.

“Somebody didn’t do their job and I misplaced my son due to that,” Marcel Poitras stated in an interview from his residence in New Brunswick.

“My son gave his life for that job.” 

The fees, laid in November, allege the businesses ignored a collection of security protocols after they directed Poitras to function a dozer on dangerously skinny ice.

The case particulars how the businesses allegedly did not correctly verify the thickness of the ice and ignored earlier measurements that confirmed it was too skinny to bear the load of the machine. 

Christina River Development, owned by Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, is dealing with 9 prices within the demise of their contractor. Suncor is dealing with 19 counts.

A plea listening to is scheduled for March 15 in Fort McMurray provincial court docket. Suncor declined to touch upon the case as it’s earlier than the court docket. Christina River Development has not responded to questions concerning the prices. 

Not one of the allegations have been confirmed in court docket.

Poitras stated his son’s demise was preventable and somebody must be held accountable.

“It’s not the primary time this has occurred,” he stated. “With the protection we now have immediately, this isn’t purported to occur.”

I had instructed myself it was only a dangerous accident.– Cathina Cormier

Suncor, one of many largest gamers within the Alberta oilsands, has been beneath elevated scrutiny for its security report. At the least 12 employees have died at its Alberta oilsands operations since 2014.

Former CEO Mark Little pledged to deal with the issue, together with a promised unbiased security overview, however stepped down in July 2022, a day after a 26-year-old contractor died after being struck by tools at Suncor’s Base Mine. 

Poitras’s mom, Cathina Cormier, stated she felt grief and disbelief when she realized of the allegations. 

“I do know there isn’t any value for a human being however once I learn the costs, I used to be offended,” Cormier stated. 

“I had instructed myself it was only a dangerous accident.”

Cormier stated studying particulars of her son’s demise has made her grief uncooked once more. She desires solutions about what went mistaken that day.

“The query I hold asking myself is who despatched him there? Who despatched my son to try this job?

“I can’t lay my boy to relaxation due to this.”

Based on the costs, Poitras was directed to function a John Deere dozer on the ice of a tailings pond when accessible ice measurements confirmed the minimal ice thickness was lower than 17 inches, as required by Suncor’s security plan.

The firms are accused of failing to finish enough ice checks and failing to make sure ground-penetrating radar was used for ice profiling earlier than dozers have been permitted to function.

In addition they allegedly failed to make sure dozer operators have been carrying private flotation units when on the ice.

It’s also alleged the businesses did not have a security plan in place directing Poitras to maintain his seatbelt off — and the door unlatched — whereas he was working the dozer on the pond.

I stated, ‘For those who discover that it’s harmful, please cease, as a result of I would like you greater than you realize. I don’t wish to lose you.– Marcel Poitras

Suncor additionally faces a cost for underestimating how a lot the dozers weighed, and failing to account for the load of snow when calculating required ice thickness.

It’s additional alleged that Suncor ignored its personal winter geology tips that known as for work to be deferred on any websites with a couple of metre of standing water.

Marcel Poitras stated Patrick known as him the evening earlier than he died and instructed him that he was nervous about security on the web site. He stated he was scared to exit on the ice.

“I stated, ‘For those who discover that it’s harmful, please cease, as a result of I would like you greater than you realize. I don’t wish to lose you.’ And he stated, ‘Dad, I’m right here to work.’”

Poitras, of Saint-André, N.B., had labored within the oilsands for six years. He had just lately returned to New Brunswick for Christmas and deliberate on shifting residence for good that spring. 

Patrick Poitras died after the dozer he was working plunged by the ice on an oilsands tailings pond. He was 25. (Patrick Poitras/Fb)

Cormier stated her son was critical about his work, but in addition a “goof” with a penchant for sporting a mullet and making folks snigger.

After two years of uncertainty and overwhelming grief, she hopes the result of the case will give her some closure.

She remains to be coming to grips along with her son’s demise, and the demise of her father weeks later.

She hopes Patrick’s legacy might be guaranteeing different employees are protected on the job.

“I simply need this to by no means occur once more. It’s a worst nightmare for a mom.

 “Our household went by hell for this.”