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November 9, 2018

Industrial explosives company fined $40,000 after rocks hit apartments in 2016 Halifax mishap

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An industrial explosives company has pleaded guilty to an Occupational Health and Safety Act charge in connection with a 2016 blast at a quarry that sent rocks flying onto a Halifax apartment building more than a kilometre away.

Dyno Nobel Canada Inc. admitted recently in Halifax provincial court that it failed to ensure there was sufficient relief for a trench blast at the Gateway Materials quarry in Kearney Lake on the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2016.

Rocks from the blast flew over the Bicentennial Highway and struck the Parkland Arms building at 390 Parkland Dr.

There were no injuries but rocks hit the roof of the Clayton Park building and smashed at least one window. One rock crashed through the roof and broke a sprinkler pipe, causing flooding in a handful of units.

Judge Michael Sherar accepted a joint sentencing recommendation for a $40,000 fine.

Dyno Nobel also must do four one-hour safety presentations for industry professionals and students over the next year, with the venues to be approved by the provincial Labour Department.

The company was fined $43,500 in 2005 for its role in a more serious incident that damaged the same building in 2003.

Prosecutor Alex Keaveny said the Crown recommended a smaller fine this time around because of differences in the facts, the early guilty plea and the addition of the safety presentations, “which the Crown sees as more important than a larger fine.”

“The value of the presentations is two-fold,” Keaveny told The Chronicle Herald.

“One, it requires them to explain their failures both to industry and students, which is good because it keeps people talking about the need for diligence. Secondly, there’s a general deterrence aspect too, because … most in the industry would rather be in the audience than on stage. They don’t want to be in front of their peers acknowledging how they failed to comply with regulations.”

Dyno Nobel’s website says the company, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a global leader in commercial explosives. The company says it has more than 3,700 employees worldwide, “including some of the most highly trained blasters in the industry.”

“Our company value, Zero Harm for Everyone Everywhere, reflects our commitment to the highest standards of safety,” the website says.

According to an agreed statement of facts about the 2016 blast, Dyno Nobel employees were instructed to load approximately 45 holes with explosives and stemming.

Keep reading in The ChronicleHerald


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