RICHMOND, BC — WorkSafeBC, investigating the deadly sawmill explosions at Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills, said ignition sources for each of the accidents appear to have been located at the conveyor level where electrical and/or mechanical equipment was in operation.

Probe of Fatal Sawmill Blasts Focuses on Conveyor AreasWorkSafeBC said investigators of both the Jan. 20 explosion at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake and the April 23 blast at Lakeland Mills in Prince George observed that the conveyor areas are in contained areas at the basement or lower level of the mills. The investigators are continuing to seek evidence that will shed more light on what likely caused the explosions at the mills, each resulting in two deaths and several severely burned workers.

The latest WorkSafeBC update did not address earlier reports that the majority of most logs at the two plants was infested by the mountain pine beetle, resulting in a fine, dry dust that some experts claim is more combustible.

Meanwhile, WorkSafeBC also continued its inspection of dozens of British Columbia sawmills and related facilities, including paying close inspection of conveyors near operating equipment. As a result of one of those inspections, a sawmill operated by Canfor in MacKenzie, was temporarily shutdown earlier this month due to accumulations of sawdust in equipment that was deemed unsafe. 

The inspectors have been identifying potential hazards and reviewing compliance plans required by each of the mills.

 

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