First responders gather at Veolia on Scott Rd. in Sarnia following plant explosion. October 25, 2014 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Sue Storr)

Not Guilty Judgement In Fatal Veolia Blast

The father of a man killed in an industrial explosion in Sarnia in 2014 says a judgement handed down in Sarnia court Friday sets a bad precedent in Chemical Valley.

Doug Miller is disappointed Ontario Court Justice Deborah Austin found Veolia Environmental Services and Division Manager Anthony Lavoratore not guilty of criminal negligence.

“I think there should be a lot of people in Sarnia that will be upset,” says Miller. “A lot of workers go into that valley and a lot of people are scared when they go in there. I used to supervise there, and they rely on those morning meetings for someone to tell them how safe it is and what the risks are. When they find out now that you don’t have to tell them all of the information that you know, there will be a lot of people unhappy about that I am sure of it.”

In her decision, Judge Austin found there was no evidence Veolia acted recklessly and that the Crown failed to prove the company didn’t meet industry standards.

She noted a stop work order was never issued by the Ontario Labour Ministry and that Lavoratore had tried to heed the advice of engineers to clean up dust in the workplace.

October 25, 2014, a violent blast that originated in a dust collection system outside of the paint shop at the Scott Rd. plant, damaged a section of cinder block wall and caused part of the roof to collapse.

37-year-old Jason Miller was killed and five other workers were seriously hurt.

The crown had alleged the company did not cease the metalizing process at the workplace after being warned of hazards by its engineers and failed to ensure the dust collector was suitable for the process.

Judge Austin says the court never received evidence on best practices for the process, and can’t fill in gaps or speculate.

Charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are still before the courts.

Jason Miller – Photo Courtesy of Smith Funeral Home Sarnia