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.



Prologue


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.)


1992


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.


1993


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.


1994


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


1995


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.


1996


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


1997


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.


1998


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
    /westrayclippings/clipping00.html
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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