The investigation into last month’s explosion that rocked the WestPine MDF facility in Quesnel, British Columbia, is ongoing, with WorkSafeBC reporting that it may be months before a conclusion is reached.
News sources report that no one was injured in the March 9 blast. Approximately 100 people worked at the mill, which produced MDF panels for use in furniture, cabinetry, flooring and millwork.
Though the mill had an active dust management plan, wood dust may have been contributing factor. “It’s too early to say at this point, but obviously there’s indicators this explosion and fire occurred in the fiber bin area,” WorkSafe BC Vice President of Prevention Field Service Al Johnson told CBC News (cbc.ca). “It has four dust collection towers where there is wood dust present, so there may be an association.”
WorkSafeBC launched a combustible dust safety strategy following fatal explosions at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake and Lakeland Mills Ltd. in Prince George. Wood dust was cited as the cause for both explosions, which resulted in four deaths and injured 52 others.
No date has been given for reopening the plant, one of two MDF mills owned by West Fraser Mills Ltd. (TSX:WTF). According to MyPrinceGeorgeNow.com, West Fraser President and CEO Ted Saraphim said the company will repair and restart WestPine after a complete investigation into the cause of the explosion and measures are in place to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.
In addition to the two MDF mills, the company also operates three plywood mills, an LVL mill and a veneer mill which produces veneer for its Edmonton plywood facility. West Fraser also owns 28 lumber mills and five pulp and paper mills. 2015 sales were $4.1 billion.