As of July 6th, one Babine employee still remains under care and undergoing rehabilitation treatment for his injuries. Ongoing professional counseling for employees and families continues to be available on a weekly basis by contract with PPC Canada. A counselor comes to Burns Lake from Smithers every Monday. Employees are encouraged to call 1/800/663-9099 to make an appointment for counseling.
Healing and reconciliation ceremonies June 15 and 16 at the mill site were well attended. We thank First Nations Chief Karen Ogen and our employees, Fabian Michell and Morris Ettinger, among others, who worked tirelessly to make all the arrangements and bring the ceremonies to fruition.
The Babine planer will complete finishing the rough lumber inventory in the Babine yard by July 10th and shipments are in process. Log sales will continue through this month. Dismantling and demolition activities on the mill site have progressed to ensure that the site is safe and environmentally sound when rebuilding activities begin. Before winter weather precludes most construction activity, we are contemplating some preliminary site preparation. Engineering plans are ongoing via planning meetings with Babine mill management, company engineering staff, and an engineering firm who is helping with the overall layout and design of the new sawmill in preparation for a decision on the final mill design.
Working in coordination with our First Nations partners, the Union, and the Village of Burns Lake, we delivered a compelling message for providing the volume of timber that will be required to sustain Decker Lake and a new Babine sawmill facility to the Special Committee on Timber Supply on June 19th in Burns Lake. The meeting was well attended and a very supportive group of “Lakes District Timber for Lakes District Mills” rallied on site after the hearing. We plan to testify before the Special Committee again this month when we have the B.C. government’s timber supply information verified by our own independent consultant. The current timeline reflects that the Committee would make a recommendation by August 15th, after which the B.C. Cabinet will take it up as a legislative matter. We are encouraging the “need for speed” as it relates to Burns Lake and moving forward with the new sawmill.
There is no news from WorkSafe in terms of their investigation into the cause of the January 20th explosion at the Babine mill. We are continuing with aggressive clean-up and safety modifications at our Decker Lake sawmill, as recommended by our third party audits and in conjunction with other recommendations that come out of our industry’s task force on combustion risks.
Senior management members from Hampton continue to be on site at Burns Lake to assist in the ongoing investigation, help our employees, and work with the community on the recovery.
Source: Hampton Affiliates
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