Government of British Columbia

Government of British Columbia

May 25, 2006 19:09 ET

Government of British Columbia: Chief Mine Inspector Directive Issued

KIMBERLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - May 25, 2006) - The investigation into the tragic accident that claimed four lives at the closed Sullivan mine is ongoing; however, investigation results have identified a potential hazard that may exist at any operation where enclosed sampling locations are located downstream of mine waste dumps, said Fred Hermann, Chief Inspector of Mines for B.C.'s Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources.

"The atmosphere within one of the water sampling buildings located at the toe of a reclaimed mine waste dump was severely oxygen-depleted," said Hermann.

During Hermann's investigation, numerous air samples were taken, including four separate sets of samples over four days - two from the ministry and two from Teck Cominco - inside the sampling building. These air samples were sent for analysis to independent laboratories in Vancouver and Edmonton. Samples taken onsite confirm initial statements by the Chief Inspector of Mines that the atmosphere was severely oxygen-depleted. Sample analysis clearly shows that hydrogen sulphide and other toxic gases were not present at the time of testing.

"It's good to have these initial findings that allow us to take immediate action to ensure all mines sites operate in a safe manner," said Bill Bennett, Minister of State for Mining. "It appears that a highly unique and precedent-setting situation has occurred here, which is why the Chief Inspector of Mines has issued the hazard alert and directive."

The oxygen-depleted atmosphere is localized and confined to the sampling building where the accident occurred. The site is now secure. Oxygen depletion happens when oxidation of rock or decomposition of organic matter occurs.

"We have issued an alert to all mines in B.C. and to chief mines inspectors across Canada to ensure safety at mine sites," said Bennett. "These are initial results - the Chief Inspector of Mines will release his report once his investigation is complete."

The directive and hazard alert are available online at:

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Contact Information

  • Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
    Jake Jacobs
    Public Affairs Officer
    (250) 952-0628 or (250) 213-6934 (cell)