In the wake of a January explosion at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility in Alberta, the company is attempting to place at least some of the blame for the fatal accident on the workers – Dave Williams, 30, and Drew Foster, 52 – who were fatally injured in the blast. As one can imagine, the families of the deceased workers are calling that move a “disgrace.”
According to some officials at Nexen, the company’s investigation, which Nexen officials described as “extensive,” found that the explosion had been caused by some workers doing work they weren’t supposed to be doing. In a statement, the company said, “Our investigation indicates that the incident was a result of work being performed outside the scope of approved work activities.”
Beyond that statement, the company, which is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd., refused to comment any further on the incident, since Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is still conducting their own investigation.
To make matters worse, the damage done by the explosion is expected to result in 350 plant worker layoffs. Nexen determined that there was no short-term fix to the damage, so they idled the upgrader portion of the Long Lake facility indefinitely, which means no workers are needed there.
The brother of one blast victim, Archie Williams, once worked at the same plant from 2008-2014, calls it a “disgrace” that his brother may be remembered as responsible for the accident. He also noted that, on the day of the explosion, Dave Williams had been assigned to the hydrocracker unit while on an overtime shift, which was not his usual position. He usually worked at the water treatment plant. In addition, Williams noted that he doesn’t believe his brother could have caused the explosion because his body was found at the facility entrance, far away from where the explosion occurred, with no broken bones and burns only to the front of his body.