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Teck fined $55,000 for ammonia leak

WorkSafeBC has fined Teck $55,000 following an ammonia spill at its Trail operation, saying that it failed to provide its workers with necessary instruction and supervision to ensure their health and safety.

In a summary of its finding, the workplace watchdog said it conducted an inspection after liquid anhydrous ammonia was released from a railcar in an unloading area on March 26, 2021.

Although the site and adjacent workplaces were evacuated, several people were exposed to the vapour.

WorkSafeBC says it determined the company did not adequately communicate or train its workers in safe work procedures for identifying and responding to ammonia leaks.

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“This included a lack of practice drills for all workers involved in ammonia-related work, and a lack of clear procedures and supervision to ensure procedures were being followed,” WorkSafeBC said.

“The firm failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure their health and safety.”

It was one at least three ammonia leaks at the smelter in 2021.

In 2019, Teck was fined $646,000 following an inspection of the zinc plant. A worker was observed walking through an energized area to operate a control panel without a barrier or other safeguard in place.

In an email, Teck spokeswoman Jayne Garry said that since the incident, the company has “taken several steps to improve procedures, communication and employee training to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Although WorkSafe deemed the incident a “high-risk violation,” Garry said there were no injuries and there was no risk to the community or environment.

“At Teck, safety is our core value and we are committed to providing a safe work environment for our employees,” she said.

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