Westray Scrapbook


Fifty "clippings" about the
Westray Coal Mine Disaster
in Nova Scotia

1995 - 1998


(Mostly about the Westray Mine Public Inquiry)




This index is arranged in reverse chronological order,
with the latest item at the top.


Westray Investigation Was Botched, Former Prosecutor Argues in Memo
The Ottawa Citizen, 17 December 1998
Charges were laid after the Westray mine explosion without a thorough investigation, and police and prosecutors were wrong to target two mine managers for blame, internal Crown documents have revealed. The damning conclusions are contained in a report prepared more than a year ago by Crown attorney Robert Hagell, who asked to be reassigned after concluding the prosecution was unfair and doomed to failure...

Crown Stays Charges Against Westray Managers 30 June 1998
Relatives of the victims of the Westray disaster erupted in tears when Nova Scotia prosecutors announced they were staying charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence against two Westray mine managers ... The announcement was delayed until hours before major holiday...

Mine Safety Award Rescinded
The Montreal Gazette, 5 May 1998
Company officials fudged accident statistics ... Management was derelict in its duty...

Official Fired Over Westray by Dean Jobb
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 April 1998
Fourth government employee to lose his job in the aftermath of the Westray disaster...

More Workplace Inspectors Needed by Dean Jobb
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 17 April 1998
Plummer Report raises concerns about inadequacies in inspection and enforcement ... Government should hire more workplace inspectors and improve training ... Labour Minister promises sufficient resources and staff to deal with all the safety concerns...

Westray Monument Powerful Reminder by Peter Duffy
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 19, 21 February 1998
This spot is half-way between where they found most of the bodies and where the rest are supposed to be, about 350 metres below us. "Ah yes," I mumble. "I'd forgotten that they never did get them all up." He nods. Twenty-six killed, eleven bodies still down there...

Ex-Westray Employees Block Site
The Halifax Daily News, 10 February 1998
Contractor prevented from starting work on dismantling the Westray Mine surface structures ... The province has ruled 117 former unionized miners are eligible for 12 weeks' severance pay. But 40 non-unionized workers missed the deadline to file a claim. Those workers said that's because they weren't aware of their rights at the time and had no one to represent them...

23 January 1998 — Twenty-five large boxes of documents and exhibits from the now-disbanded Westray Public Inquiry Commission have been delivered to the library at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, the university library closest to the site of the Westray coal mine.

Engineers' Fate to be Known Soon by Dean Jobb,
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 22 January 1998
Three senior government engineers suspended with pay in the wake of the Westray inquiry report ... Coopers and Lybrand conducting a review and will recommend what action, if any, should be taken...

Gold Mine Layoffs Blamed on Westray-Related Firings by Steve Proctor,
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 22 January 1998
Department of Natural Resources and Labor in turmoil ... No one left in the Department with the expertise to approve any kind of mining permit ... "I don't even know who our inspector is now"...

Westray Silos to Come Down
The Globe and Mail, 21 January 1998
Westray mine's highly visible tall blue coal silos will be demolished ... Mine entrance to be sealed ... $847,770 to All Steel Coatings Ltd., Port Hastings ... Work begins immediately...

Mine Collapse Revives Westray Memories by Sherri Borden,
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 19 January 1998
Miner left work an hour before the roof fell ... Former Westray coal miner says the cave-in made him think seriously about the nature of his work ...

Still Failing the Westray Miners
Editorial in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 13 January 1998
The Cabinet scurried into hiding behind its lawyers' skirts ... They decided to nickel-and-dime former Westray miners ... As far as the vague concern that this settlement would expose the province to future pressure in run-of-the-mill bankruptcies where it ends up with the assets, we don't believe it ... Don Downe's apology was a painstakingly lawyered absurdity...

Government Won't Advance Severance
The Globe and Mail, 9 January 1998
Cabinet decision ... Workers must wait until the bankrupt mine's assets are sold ... There was a danger of setting a precedent ... Disgusting, really disgusting...

Severance Issue Before Cabinet by Dean Jobb,
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 8 January 1998
Cabinet will consider the union's request that the money be paid up front, with the government recovering the payment once the assets are sold ... A second group of geologists, engineers, foremen, secretaries and other non-union workers is seeking the same treatment...

Equal Treatment
Editorial in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 6 January 1998
The province has just found another wrong to right ... Common decency and downright fairness demand all ex-Westray employees be treated equally...

Putting Substance in Sorry
Editorial in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 2 January 1998
They should not have to wait any longer ... Government negligence in this tragedy was second only to the company's ... The government has continued, shamefully, to dodge the ultimate responsibility...

Nova Scotia Urged to do Right...
The Calgary Herald, 31 December 1997
"Inescapable conclusion" that Westray management could, and should, have prevented the disaster ... With Curragh bankrupt, the award will have to be satisfied from sale of assets, including unused mining machines estimated to be worth several million dollars ... The province, which holds title to the Westray coal mine site, is under pressure to pay the money up front and recover it once the assets are sold...

Westray Miners Awarded Severance by Kevin Cox,
The Globe and Mail, 31 December 1997
Miner who complained about unsafe working conditions at Westray was insulted, reprimanded, demoted, and ultimately suspended ... The Nova Scotia government has acknowledged that it failed to ensure that the mine was a safe place to work...

Pay up, Westray Miners Say by Rachel Boomer & David Rodenhiser,
The Halifax Daily News, 31 December 1997
Labor tribunal awards $1,200,000 in severance pay ... Under provincial labor laws, employers must pay 12 weeks' severance to laid-off employees unless they can prove the cause of the layoffs was beyond their control. That was the argument mine owner Curragh Resources Inc. originally made when the claim was filed, but the tribunal's decision says that argument is invalid...

Westray Father Glad Mine to Disappear
The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 21 December 1997
The province will clean up the mine ... It will dismantle Westray's blue silos, plant grass and turn over the property to the community...

Westray Severance Closer to Reality
The Calgary Herald, 20 December 1997
One never-used mining machine, worth millions of dollars, has been sitting in a warehouse for over five years ... The judge concluded Westray management had been derelict in its duty to operate the mine safely...

For Leaders, Not Lawyers
Editorial in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 20 December 1997
This government hasn't figured out what is the right thing to do ... weasel words ... slippery dodge ... government negligence, lassitude and incompetence did play a key role ... If this isn't liability, what is? If this catalogue of failures doesn't create a responsibility to compensate victims' families, then what conceivable act of negligence could we hold our government accountable for? How bad would it have to get?...

High Officials Must Answer, Too... by Cathy Nicoll,
The Halifax Daily News, 19 December 1997
No politician, no senior officials are being held accountable ... Unfair to only hold lower echelon officials responsible for what was a systemic failure ... More than 92 lawsuits in progress against the Province of Nova Scotia...

Officials Fired in Westray Disaster by Graeme Hamilton,
The Ottawa Citizen, 19 December 1997
Nova Scotia government actions range from the symbolic demolition of the coal mine silos to the firing of two mine inspectors accused of incompetence ... Miner's widow disappointed by the "government's intransigence" ... "Empty apology" ... No plan to recover eleven bodies still in the mine ...

Nova Scotia to Act on Westray Report by Stephen Thorne,
The Vancouver Province, 19 December 1997
Ministerial performance bordered on the unethical ... Albert McLean and Claude White fired without severance pay but may keep their pensions ... Dead miners' families express suspicions about the Minister's carefully chosen words ... Will sue ... "What they said in the meeting at the hotel (Thursday) morning is quite different from what the man said in front of us here"...

Government Response to Westray Inquiry Report Cabinet Minister Don Downe.
18 December 1997
The entire system of the day failed the miners, their families and all Nova Scotians on May 9, 1992. On behalf of the province, I apologize for any role government may have played. We are deeply sorry for the Westray disaster. It never should have happened...

The Larger Lessons of Westray by Ralph Surette.
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 12 December 1997
Interference for partisan purposes, promotions based on politics not merit, the rules being bent for political reasons ... the very picture of bureaucracy at its worst. Inspectors were untrained for their task, largely ignorant of the laws they were supposed to uphold, and basically reduced to flunkies of the company they were supposed to inspect...

Westray Commissioner Takes Parting Shot At Frame by Kevin Cox.
The Globe and Mail, 9 December 1997
An uncompromising and abusive negotiator ... the story of the mine was a complex mosaic of actions, omissions, mistakes, incompetence, apathy, cynicism, stupidity, and neglect...

...And the Mine Blew Up by Parker Barss-Donham.
The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 7 December 1997
In his "abrasive and abusive" campaign to wheedle government cash for a project too risky to entrust with his own money, his tolerance of bully tactics against miners who voiced fear for their safety, his foul appearance at the funeral, his attempt to hold widows and orphans hostage to a lucrative surface coal concession, and his contempt for the Inquiry Commission's authority, Clifford Frame personifies the evil man can visit upon fellow man...

Westray Exposed Government's Shortcomings by Karen Janigan,
The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 7 December 1997
Nova Scotia government bureaucrats ignored warnings, disregarded laws, altered official meeting minutes, and turned a blind eye to illegal practices ... Most damning example is John Mullally, the former deputy minister of Natural Resources appointed a year before the explosion ... The deputy minister of natural resources did not consider it important to be familiar with the relevant legislation...

Never Let the Risks Outweigh the Benefits by Peter Lesniak
Editorial in the Whitehorse Yukon News, 5 December 1997
We must do everything we can to ensure that never again is there another mining disaster in Canada like Westray ... Equally culpable were the company bosses and government bureaucrats who turned a blind eye to the many problems at the mine...

Two Inquiries Reveal Two Approaches
Editorial in The Toronto Star, 5 December 1997
One report bristled with righteous anger, the other was cautious and plodding ... Voicing the nation's outrage ... A courageous commissioner can hold individuals who betray the public trust to account in clear, unequivocal language ...

Killer Coal Lies in Wait
Commentary by Bob MacDonald in the Calgary Sun, 4 December 1997
The dreaded explosion was no surprise to retired miners, but seemed surprising to Curragh boss Clifford Frame and his management team ... Humans have a way of burying mistakes when there's a dollar to be made. The Foord seam death count stands at 176. How long will it be before someone else comes along and declares they have a foolproof way to safely mine it?

Other Provinces Urged to Learn from Mine Tragedy by Graeme Hamilton
The Edmonton Journal, 3 December 1997
His supervisor told him to get rid of his safety glasses because there was no room for the safety-conscious on his crew. When he complained of dangerous conditions, he was told the company had thousands of applications from men ready to replace him ... Flagrant disregard for safety...

Westray Blame Has Been Placed Where it Belongs
Editorial in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, 3 December 1997
[I have not been able to locate this text.]

Stupidity Blew Up Westray, Judge Says by Kevin Cox,
The Globe and Mail, 2 December 1997
Mine managers were aware that an explosive environment was building at the mine in the days before the blast, yet were so intent on producing coal that they ignored the increasing concentrations of methane and the thick layers of coal dust...

Westray's Grim Truth
Editorial in The Toronto Star, 2 December 1997
Incompetence, mismanagement, bureaucratic bungling, deceit, ruthlessness, cover-up, apathy, expediency, and cynical indifference ... No one in authority could be bothered to prevent it ... No one cared ... Like something out of a medieval novel ... That this should occur, in Canada, in the 1990s, is hard to believe...

Bureaucats, Bosses Blamed for Mine Deaths by Graeme Hamilton,
The Ottawa Citizen, 2 December 1997
Bureaucratic bungling, deceit, ruthlessness, coverup, apathy ... It's like the blood inquiry and the Somalia inquiry, when they get close to the scum at the top, it seems to all fade away...

Human Error Blamed for Mine Disaster
The Toronto Star, 2 December 1997
Clifford Frame ultimately responsible ... Bureaucracy infested with apathy and complacence ... Serenely uninformed ... Wilfully blind ... Cynically self-serving ... Don Downe chose his words carefully while the families of the dead miners listened...

Westray "Deceit", Deadly Mine Blast Preventable by Graeme Hamilton,
The Montreal Gazette, 2 December 1997
A deadly mix of corporate ruthlessness and regulatory incompetence ... unfathomable disregard for workers' safety ... "cavalier attitude" of mine management...

Westray Report Blasts All
The Vancouver Province, 2 December 1997
Only the serenely uninformed, the wilfully blind, or the cynically self-serving could be satisfied with such an explanation ... management failed, the inspectorate failed and the mine blew up...

Westray Disaster Will be Repeated if Inquiry Lessons Are Not Acted On
United Steelworkers Union, 2 December 1997
Every aspect of this completely-preventable disaster has been documented by the Inquiry ... The Inquiry report condemns individuals, the company and the government for deliberately putting workers' lives at risk for the sake of profit ... But the report will amount to nothing if its lessons are not learned...

After the Westray Explosion: A Brief Chronology of Events
The Halifax Daily News, 2 December 1997

Moral Leadership: Facing Canada's Leadership Crisis by Robert Evans,
24 November 1997
Leadership gone rotten ... Westray, Somalia, Tainted blood, Bre-X, Airbus ... tragedy, duplicity, and moral failing in high places...

Ex-Westray Chief Fails in Bid for Comeback by Paul McKay
The Ottawa Citizen, 12 September 1997
Greenfields shareholders reject takeover proposal ... Votes accompanied by jeers, epithets, heckling ... Shaky finances could spell the end of Clifford Frame's first public company since the parent company of Westray Coal went bankrupt in 1993...
    #   Ex-Westray Chief Fails in Bid for Comeback
    #   1997: Mineral Resources Corporation Chairman C.H. Frame
    #   1998: Minroc Mines Incorporated Chairman C.H. Frame
    #   1999: Cassiar Mines & Metals Incorporated Chairman C.H. Frame
    #   2000: Cassiar Magnesium Incorporated Chairman C.H. Frame
    #   2001: Cassiar Resources Incorporated Chairman M. Burns

To Westray and Beyond by Paul McKay
The Ottawa Citizen, 8 September 1997
Paul McKay tells the story of Clifford Frame, who wants to put Westray behind him and get back in business...
Mr. McKay's article is archived at
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/970908/1139242.html


Westray Boss Back in Business by Paul McKay
The Ottawa Citizen, 8 September 1997
Clifford Frame is trying to get back in the coal business, sixty-four months after an underground explosion killed 26 Nova Scotia miners and left his defunct company facing manslaughter and criminal negligence charges...
Mr. McKay's article is archived at
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/970908/1139101.html


No More Westrays
United Steelworkers Union, 27 August 1997
Five years later, questions still unanswered, families still grieving ... Ultra-conservative columnist Diane Francis criticized the CBC for its "overkill coverage of a relatively insignificant inquiry — into the Westray Mines tragedy" ... Francis also went on to describe the inquiry as a "nationally-inconsequential" event...

Bay Street Wary of Frame by Richard Mostyn
The Yukon News, 22 January 1997
Bay Street investors are wary of base-metal mining guru Clifford Frame ... Is Frame the guy you're prepared to lend money to? ... More adept at mining governments than ore bodies...

New Workplace Rules Aim to Protect Workers by Michelle Walters
NovaNewsNet, 15 January 1997
Four-and-a-half years after one of the worst workplace disasters in Nova Scotia history, the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act has been revised. Based on more than three years of review, the new Act improves three basic rights: the right to know, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to participate in workplace health and safety issues...

Gaining Access to the Westray Inquiry by Michelle Walters
NovaNewsNet, 29 October 1996
What does it mean for a document to be "public", if the cost is so high that nobody can afford it? ... The Westray Public Inquiry transcript sells for $2900.76 per copy, and the Westray Criminal Trial transcript goes for $1931.71 a copy...

Government Lawyer Admits Province Bears Some Blame by Beverley Ware
The Ottawa Citizen, 23 July 1996
It was the first time in eight months of hearings that anyone employed by the province has accepted blame for the 1992 disaster ... Reinhold Endres' comments too little, too late...

Researchers Criticize Westray Mine Safety by Amanda Leslie-Spinks
The Gazette, (The University of Calgary's faculty and staff weekly newspaper)
1996
A network of financial and political forces pushing managers to value production results over safety rules ... Bank of Nova Scotia linked financing to production data ... Government funding depended on a commitment to the Nova Scotia Power Corporation to produce a certain number of tons of coal per year ... Criminal and regulatory proceedings exclude evidence about financial, political and cultural factors ... Rules of admissibility of evidence filter out essential information...


The Politics of Coal by Dalton Camp
The Hill Times, 10 June 1996
Horse-trading and hornswoggling ... Subsidy, soot, grime, black dust, and danger ... Roiling seas of ambition, self-interest, and conflicted purpose ... A parade of witnesses, all well-meaning and each blameless. One of them has blamed the dead...

From the Start, the Westray Mine Was a Disaster Waiting to Happen
Maclean's 15 July 1996
Shaun Comish pulled on his draegerman's gear and headed back down the Westray mine, where four days before he had been working the day shift. He remembers the equipment wreckage, blown all over the place, and two bodies, burned so black that in the dark, in the coal and the rubble, the rescue workers did not see them until they were literally underfoot. He remembers placing Larry James's charred remains in a fluorescent orange body bag...

Westray Inquiry Confronts Some Artful Dodgers by Jim Meek
The Chronicle-Herald, 31 May1996
John Buchanan has made avuncular blandness into an art form ... Buchanan and Cameron both refused to take any blame for the tragedy that killed 26 men ... Buchanan was more adept than Cameron at getting this message across. Instead of enraging everyone, like Donald, John put 'em all to sleep ... He showed a remarkable grasp of trivial detail...

Allen Martin
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "The National - Almanac", 10 May1996
A very painful week ... Many families say this was the hardest week yet at the inquiry: hearing a top mine inspector deny responsibility ... Hopefully, somehow, we can make a difference, so that nobody else goes through this kind of damn foolishness...

Coal, Politics...and Don Cameron's Pal by Jim Meek
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 2 February 1996
Just another snorter at the trough ... There was no bloody way Don Downe was going to give a strip mine contract to any friend of Donald Cameron, much less one linked with Westray ... Suppressed information...

Westray Disaster Had Deep Roots by Parker Barss-Donham
The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 16 July 1995
Just when the Westray fiasco seemed to have reached a low ebb, the moral tide dropped a few more feet last week ... Halifax and Ottawa both obstructing the quest for truth ... A promoter who made his career flattering gullible politicians and mining government grants...

Wins Award for Bravery at Westray by Cathy Hallessey
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, February 1995
Each of the 177 men to receive medals were called one at a time ... Some faces beamed with pride, others were close to tears. This honour makes them part of the largest group in the history of the Honours System to be awarded bravery decorations for a single incident ... After five long days and nights, their efforts were in vain. None of the trapped miners survived...

Curragh Files for Court Protection 20 March 1993
Curragh, the Canadian lead and zinc producer, yesterday filed for court protection from its creditors after failing to overcome a succession of financial and operating setbacks ... Curragh's problems have been compounded by the closure of its Westray coal mine in Nova Scotia since an explosion there last May killed 26 miners...




Go to:   Main Westray Coal Mine Disaster page
    http://alts.net/ns1625/wraymenu.html
Go to:   Westray Public Inquiry online transcript of testimony
    http://alts.net/ns1625/950013index.html
Go to:   Home Page
    /index.html




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The traffic spike in January 2006 is attributable to the surge in interest about
coal mine disasters, following the methane explosion in a coal mine at Sago,
West Virginia, on 2 January 2006, and the conveyor belt fire in a coal mine at
Melville, West Virginia, on 19 January 2006, both with multiple miner fatalities.
Sago Mine disaster by Wikipedia
Sago Mine Information Single Source Page by United States Department of Labor
Aracoma Alma Mine accident, Melville by Wikipedia


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