Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Two "Temporary Foreign Workers" Dead, Four Injured in Tar Sands Accident

Two dead, four injured in roof collapse at job site north of Fort McMurray

FORT MCKAY, Alta. (CP) _ Two workers were killed and four others injured Tuesday when a roof collapsed at a Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. job site north of Fort McMurray.

The company said in a news release that the 2:30 p.m. accident involved a roof support structure at the tank erection site of the Horizon Oil Sands Project.

“All authorities have been notified of this incident,‘‘ the company said in a news release.

“The site has been immediately secured and injured workers are receiving appropriate medical attention by the on-site medical staff.‘‘

A worker told CTV Edmonton it was windy and the large tank just flew apart.

“I heard this horrible noise, just crashing steel, smashing, crashing, and I looked over and I saw bunch of steel flying, these huge towers they use for holding up the tank roof,‘‘ the unidentified worker said.

All workers were evacuated from the site, the worker said.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said he received a few phone calls from union members at the site.

“They told us there‘d been an accident on the Horizon site involving temporary foreign workers from China brought in by CNR or one of their contractors to work on a big tank farm on the Horizon site,‘‘ McGowan said.

“Our understanding is that one of the big tanks collapsed and in the process at least two workers were killed and as many as four were injured.‘‘

McGowan said he did not know what caused the collapse.

“That‘s all we got before our members‘ cell phones were confiscated by management.‘‘

Barrie Harrison, communications officer for Occupational Health and Safety, also said it‘s not clear what happened.

He could not confirm if the workers were from China and did not know their ages or gender.

Harrison also said he doesn‘t know the extent of the injuries to the four workers, but they were taken to hospital.

Health and safety officers were on their way to the site and once there, will secure the site to do their investigation. Harrison said they may order the shutdown of the work site or shutdown of equipment.

The Horizon project is being developed over a seven-year period on a 46,500 hectare site 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Canadian Natural had recently introduced direct charter flights to Cape Breton and Newfoundland for workers commuting to jobs on the project.

Horizon workers generally work three or four weeks at the camp-like site with eight days off, during which they are flown home.

Canadian Natural Resources said last summer it was expecting to double its 2,500-person workforce.

The company had also been flying skilled workers in from Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland to meet labour shortages and using a mix of union and non-union labour on the site.

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