Families, workers, affected by Lakeland Mills and Babine Forest Products explosions to hold 'walk for justice' on April 23 in Prince George, British Columbia; worker's widow issues statement calling for independent inquiry
PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia
April 22, 2014
(Prince George Citizen)
– Families and workers of the Lakeland Mills and Babine Forest Products explosions will be holding a "walk for justice" on Wednesday afternoon through downtown Prince George to campaign for a public inquiry into the disasters.
It will start at 1 p.m. at Parkwood Mall in front of The Bay, from where they will proceed along Winnipeg Street to 10th Avenue and past the WorkSafeBC office, before turning left onto Victoria Street and then right on Fifth Avenue where it will go past Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond's office. The walk will continue on to George Street and then finished at the courthouse at George and Second.
On Jan. 20, 2012, an explosion and fire ripped through Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake, 226 km west of Prince George, killing Carl Charlie, 42, and his co-worker Robert Luggi, 45, and injuring 20 other workers.
And three months later, on April 23, 2012, a similar explosion and fire struck Lakeland Mills in Prince George. Glenn Roche, 46, and Alan Little, 43, died from injuries in that event and 22 other Lakeland employees also suffered injuries.
After receiving reports from WorkSafeBC, provincial Crown counsel has decided to not pursue charges against the owners of either mill while the provincial government has resisted calls for a public inquiry.
Supporters of a public inquiry, which have included Opposition New Democrat leader Adrian Dix, say it will provide more thorough answers and recommendations to prevent similar disasters from occurring in the future.
"I believe an independent inquiry is needed to learn where the system has failed the workers in the months before the explosion, the night of the explosion and the investigation after the explosion," Roche's widow, Ronda, said in a statement.
There is a possibility the two disasters will be folded into a single inquest. B.C.'s Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe has said she remains confident an inquest is the "best venue to address the many important questions and concerns raised about the explosion and resulting deaths."
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