Two for reading.

Weeding my way relentlessly through emails, news, my fellow bloggers wonderfully varied offerings, and so far two things have really caught my attention, for different reasons.

First, Alexis Stoymenoff had a great article posted yesterday, on how much the infamous Koch brothers have poured into the Fraser Institute, obtained from U.S. tax documents. Wow… yet another reason no one should even pay any attention to the right-wing cheerleaders of Liberal misdeeds…

Second, Dope City Free Press had me unexpectedly bawling with his raw words of pain and truth in this graphic post,Sawmill War Zone . A mill worker himself, he writes of what he knows firsthand. If swear words offend you, get over it and take a look because this is how it really is for men all over B.C., including several members of my family, who’ve had close calls in mills, but never anything like this… yet.

“Our work is dirty, dull and dangerous. The sort of work men have calculatingly performed since the beginning of our sputtering industrial age. You go in knowing you will shower after, not before, work; you go in knowing you will be bored, perhaps to the edge of insanity and beyond; you go in knowing, chances are, you will get hurt before your working days are done.

You do not go in expecting your fucking sawmill will explode like a police station in motherfucking Baghdad”


15 thoughts on “Two for reading.

  1. My hubby came from the forest industry, although booming, not sawmills. After hurting himself too much to return to work, he retrained as a safety consultant and his first jobs were setting up safety programs for several sawmills in the Lower Mainland and then in a sawmill in Vavenby. There have been serious problems for quite a long time in this industry and we are lucky that we haven’t had more incidents such as these. I used to pray every day when he went to work that today wouldn’t be the day……my heart goes out to those men and their families. Someone should be in jail for allowing this to happen.


    1. I agree Cheryl. It seems warnings were made and heard,and this was a preventable tragedy in many peoples eyes. Norman has a great post on this.


  2. I think blaming beetle killed wood for the explosion is a little premature. I doubt if the mills were cutting so much dead wood to cause this problem as they are more likely to be cutting a high percentage of green wood. Most beetle killed wood does not make it out of the bush. When the loggers are cutting in these areas they are also cutting unharmed green wood which is making it to the mill when they should be leaving the living, unharmed timber and only salvaging the beetle killed wood. But the Liberals gutted the Forest Service (the timber police) and let the industry self regulate which means NO regulation. Cedar mills have been operating for decades in this province also cutting extremely dry wood without these massive explosions going on. And they are usually low tech mills without fancy systems for cleaning the air of sawdust. Let’s hope a REAL investigation is done on these tragic mill explosions without immediately focusing on this dry wood idea. That idea hit the press too fast for my liking, look deeper.


    1. Possibly, and yes, some mills are cutting green wood, but not all. There are some mills still cutting beetle kill-I was just up in PG and outside this mill site.I personally think safety standards had something to do with it, but again, premature to say anything yet.


    2. No that’s not true Kevin. The green wood can’t be run with the dry wood because the green wood needs to be run through a dry kiln, if the dry wood was mixed in it too would go through the kiln which would render the already dry wood useless for any thing but the chipper.


  3. Kevin is right. Worksafe BC and the Forest Service have been gutted and the industry has been self-regulating. When has that ever benefited workers? Only the company, as far as I can see.


    1. Actually, he is right. Sawmills have been cutting dry cedar for generations in this province. Have you seen the sawdust from dry cedar? The difference is that WCB and the Forest Service insisted the dust was cleaned up, and did inspections to enforce it. They don’t do that anymore. The Libs have left it up to Industry to police itself.


  4. Kevin lots of dry beetle killed logs do make it to the mills, and no they are not mixed in with the green logs. They need to be milled separately because the already dry wood can’t be mixed with the green wood as the green wood must be kiln dried. The already dry wood can not go through a dry kiln.
    Also the reason cedar mills aren’t exploding is because the cedar mills are for the most part older and slower technology, and the mills are not closed in like the modern high speed mills…they are more open to the elements meaning better air flow.


  5. Also I do think that government de-regulation/self-regulation played a huge part in both mill expolsions. The government fells they should not interfear with the industry’s bottom line.


  6. Kevin is both right and wrong.

    A closer look and a real investigation is imperative.

    Beetle wood is mixed with other far more merchantable timber and both are harvested.

    Observers who have pointed out that milling is done differently are also correct and how Kevin phrases it seems incorrect in the sense they point out.


  7. It still boils down to “BC Liberal government” regulations (or lack there of), not being enough. Leaving the mills to self regulate is both irresponsibe and dangerous and the BC Liberal government just doesn’t want the responsibility of enforcing the pitiful regulations. To do the enforcement means hiring people to do the work and of course the BC Liberal government doesn’t have the financial resources to enforce their own regulations – what a load of crap.

    What we do have is a provincial government that got elected on “deregulation” and now the results of deregulation are showing how inadequate both the BC Liberal government has become and how little concern is being shown by the employers. There is huge interest in grain silo’s where there is equipment working – all their equipment is rated “explosion proof” and there is strict house keeping rules. Accumulations of dust are minimized (plant design) and what accunulations do occur are regularly cleared away.

    The wood mills use natural gas along with other inflammable materials and one would think that the housekeeping would be adequate to ensure safety standards are met. I seriously doubt that safety has been a big issue as this will cost money to the mill owners and reduce production in a lot of cases. The blame for this tragedy and the Burns Lake tragedy, rests squarely on the shoulders of both the BC Liberal government and the respective employers (mill owners).

    Thank you.


  8. My condolences to the families of those hurt, or killed. This was something that did not have to happen, and another thing to add to the many pages-long list of LIEberal bullshit. Their relaxed stances on work-safety and employee safety brings back the pre-30’s work conditions which, is really no surprise considering all the other scams and disreputable dealings that they are involved with.
    The word LIEberal nowadays has worse reactions than a word like “cancer”.
    Let’s just hope voters remember this.


  9. The RCMP have ruled the explosion and fire was not criminal in nature, turned over to the coroners service- this article talks about the dust factor. And there can be no comparison between cutting cedar and pine beetle kill, since most of the pine beetle trees have been dead for years.

    Also of note from that article, for those wishing to help in some way:

    The explosion on Monday killed two workers and injured 22 others.

    Two donation funds have been set up to help sawmill employees and their families impacted by the tragedy.

    The Prince George Community Foundation has set up an account.

    Donations can be made with a credit card on the foundation’s website ( Cheques or money orders can also be made out to the Prince George Community Foundation, with a note directing the funds to the Lakeland Fire Assistance Fund (tax receipts will be issued by the foundation) and mailed to: Prince George Community Foundation, PO Box 1204, Station A, Prince George, B.C. V2L 4V3.

    The United Steelworkers, Local 1-424, the union representing workers at Lakeland, has also set up an assistance fund. Cheques should be made out to United Steelworkers, Local 1-424, with a note directing the funds to the Lakeland Tragedy Fund.

    They can be mailed or dropped off at the union’s Prince George office: United Steelworkers, Local 1-424, 100-1777 Third Ave., Prince George, B.C., V2L 3G7.


  10. Also, this from a friend:

    “The B.C. government is now going to inspect all sawmills in the province, which suggests to me that they have the authority, but haven’t used it.

    I had a quick look at WorkSafe’s website and their inspection procedures.

    They have moved to self-inspection regime wherein the employer establishes an occupational health and safety committee, and that group is responsible for inspecting the workplace. The employer is responsible for ensuring compliance with relevant OHS regulations. Any safety problems are to be reported back to management, not WorkSafe B.C. It’s a weaselly system that relieves the regulator of work and responsibility, while ensuring that workers are kept under the thumb of management.

    The Auditor General may have done something in this area. He has a very broad mandate, which he has used to look at practices in the forestry industry such as reforestation. A call to his office might be worthwhile.”


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