Injured workers still hospitalized as N.L. refinery eyes restarting next week

·2 min read
A flash fire on Sept. 2 at the Come By Chance refinery in Placentia Bay injured eight workers and halted conversion work at the half-century-old complex. (Sarah Sears/CBC - image credit)
A flash fire on Sept. 2 at the Come By Chance refinery in Placentia Bay injured eight workers and halted conversion work at the half-century-old complex. (Sarah Sears/CBC - image credit)

Conversion work at the Come By Chance refinery could resume by next Wednesday following a flash fire that injured eight workers on Sept. 2.

"Mid to late week we would expect some return to light duties at the site, after we have shared our plans for return-to-work and got feedback from workers at the site," Karen White, a spokesperson for Braya Renewable Fuels, said Friday.

Employees are tentatively scheduled to gather at the refinery on Tuesday for meetings with Braya leaders to hear the results of an internal investigation into the incident. Workers will also be informed about the return-to-work plan, and be given an opportunity to ask questions and express opinions, said White.

Meanwhile, an investigation by the province's occupational health and safety division is ongoing, and a stop-work order in the area of the sprawling refinery where the flash fire occurred remains in place.

Of the eight workers injured during the fire, five remain in hospital, according to the company.

More than 600 Braya employees and contractors had been working to convert the half-century-old oil refinery in Newfoundland's Placentia Bay into a refinery that will produce aviation and diesel fuel made from plant-based waste oils and animal fats.

Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

The company had hoped to commence operations late summer or early fall, with a plan to create 200 full-time jobs.

"We're going to reassess the project schedule once we see how it's going, but right now we're focused on getting the workers back to the site and in a safe manner," said White.

Construction came to an abrupt halt on the Friday before Labour Day following what the company is calling a flash fire near Unit 13, in the refinery's production area.

The injured workers were transferred by ambulance to the Dr. G. B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville, a distance of 42 kilometres. Later that night, five of the workers were transferred by helicopter to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's.

The company has revealed the findings of its internal investigation to the injured workers and their families, and will do the same for the remainder of its workforce next week.

In an effort to support workers and their families, White said regular open houses have been held in recent days at the refinery, and employee/family supports services are also being made available.

"We continue to have an open door and welcome feedback and questions and concerns from the workers," said White.

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