A Westray Chronology

After the Westray Explosion:
A Chronology

A brief chronology of events
following the Westray mine disaster

Below is based on an item which appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Tuesday, 2 December 1997,
with additional information from various sources.


1990 June 27 — The final acceptance by the Federal Government and Curragh Resources Inc., of the deal to provide funding for the development of the Westray coal mine. (Source: the transcript for Day 62, 22 May 1996, of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry Commission hearings.)


May 9 — Explosion wrecks Westray coal mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, killing 26 miners.

May 15 — Province appoints Justice Peter Richard of Nova Scotia Supreme Court to run wide-ranging Westray Inquiry.

May 20 — Allegations in Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly that Westray documents have been destroyed.

May 21 — RCMP launch criminal investigation.

May 29 — Surviving Westray miners vote in favour of Steelworkers Union.

Sep. 17-24 — RCMP begins underground investigation of the wrecked mine.

Oct. 5 — Nova Scotia provincial prosecutors lays 52 non-criminal charges of unsafe practices against Westray owner Curragh Inc. and four managers.

Nov. 19 — Minister of Labour replaced, Deputy retired, Director of Occupational Health and Safety dismissed.

Nov. 20 — Westray families' Group gets temporary injunction against flooding Southwest.

Dec. 10 — Prosecution drops 34 of 52 safety charges to avoid prejudicing RCMP criminal investigation.


Jan. 6 — Province permits Westray to flood sections of mine "for safety reasons", making some tunnels inaccessible for evidence-gathering.

March 3 — Prosecution stays remaining 18 safety charges to avoid jeopardizing rights in criminal investigation.

March 19 — Curragh Inc., the Canadian lead and zinc producer and owner of the Westray coal mine in Nova Scotia, filed for court protection from its creditors, a legal first step in bankruptcy proceedings.

April 20 — RCMP lay charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death against Curragh and managers Gerald Phillips and Roger Parry.

July 20 — Provincial court quashes manslaughter and negligence charges, saying they lack detail.

July 23 — RCMP file new charges with more details.

Sep. 10 — Creditors put two Curragh projects into receivership, Curragh Inc. soon follows.


April 18 — Westray Inquiry lawyer John Merrick argues before Supreme Court of Canada that delaying the Inquiry until trials are over could cost lives.


Feb. 6 — Westray Criminal Trial begins in Pictou.

May 4 — Supreme Court rules Inquiry can proceed before Criminal Trial ends.

June 9 — Westray Criminal Trial proceedings stayed (effectively ended) on grounds prosecution did not adequately disclose evidence.

Nov. 6 — Westray Inquiry hearings begin.

Dec. 1 — Nova Scotia Court of Appeal quashes stay of Criminal Trial.

Dec. 21 — Phillips and Parry ask Supreme Court of Canada to overturn new Criminal Trial order.


July 22 — Westray Inquiry concludes with lawyers' summations after 76 days of testimony; attempts to subpoena Curragh bosses continue.


March 20 — Supreme Court of Canada upholds new Criminal Trial order.

July 17 — Ontario court rules former Westray owner Clifford Frame and Curragh's president of operations, Marvin Pelley, both Ontario residents, must testify before the Inquiry. Frame and Pelley's appeal is to be heard in February 1998.

Dec. 1 — Justice Peter Richard's Westray Inquiry report released, blaming bureaucratic bungling, incompetent mine managers and pushy politicians for the mine disaster. Released without testimony from Frame and Pelley.

Dec. 18 — Nova Scotia Transportation and Public Works Minister Don Downe announces the government accepts each of Justice Richard's 74 recommendations. Two mine inspectors accused of incompetence are fired.

Dec. 30 — Nova Scotia Labour Standards Tribunal awards $1,200,000 in severance pay, plus compound interest from June 1992, to 117 unionized mine workers.


Jan. 8 — Nova Scotia Cabinet decides not to advance severance pay to 117 former unionized workers at the Westray coal mine, the workers must wait until the bankrupt mine's assets are sold.

Jan. 20 — Contract is awarded to demolish the Westray mine coal silos and permanently seal the mine portal.

Go To:   Westray Scrapbook Fifty clippings about the Westray coal mine disaster
Go to:   Main Westray Coal Mine Disaster page
Go to:   Westray Public Inquiry online transcript of testimony
Go to:   Home Page

Counter started 13 July 2000
Counter reset to zero by hosting service on 10 May 2002
  Hits per calendar month
       2005 Feb    23
       2005 Jan    36

       2004 Dec    45
       2004 Nov    69
       2004 Oct    57
       2004 Sep    29
       2004 Aug    18
       2004 Jul    12
       2004 Jun    15
       2004 May    34
       2004 Apr    42
       2004 Mar    55
       2004 Feb    46
       2004 Jan    31

       2003 Dec    13
       2003 Nov    23
       2003 Oct    38
       2003 Sep    28
       2003 Aug    14
       2003 Jul    11
       2003 Jun    22
       2003 May    34

First uploaded to the WWW:   1998 January 26