Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 17, 2013

Officials probe huge propane escape at the Wolverine Mine site

The territory’s fire marshal says officials at the Yukon’s Wolverine Mine followed all the required procedures in dealing with a major propane leak and evacuation late last month.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Dennis Berry and Kurt Dieckmann

The territory’s fire marshal says officials at the Yukon’s Wolverine Mine followed all the required procedures in dealing with a major propane leak and evacuation late last month.

“People were safe,” Dennis Berry said in an interview Monday.

After thousands of litres leaked, the area was evacuated and a perimeter was established. All electrical systems within the perimeter were shut down.

Approximately 20,000 litres of propane escaped, with the minesite evacuation involving about 100 workers.

Emergency responders were called Nov. 26 to the minesite southeast of Ross River to deal it with the incident reported to the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, which followed up with other government agencies.

It was also reported to the fire marshal’s office and others who needed to be contacted.

Berry noted staff at the mine have a lot of training to deal with emergency situations.

While the fire marshal’s office monitored the situation while it was underway, Berry said his involvement ended once the leak had been fixed.

Also notified of the situation as per protocols was the territory’s building safety branch, though, as director Doug Badry said Monday, with everything being handled properly, it didn’t become a major concern.

“These kinds of things happen,” Badry said, noting the only thing out of the ordinary was the large volume of propane which leaked.

That meant officials at the mine had to report it to the workers’ compensation board.

Badry said he understands there was a leak in the line pump transfer.

An inspector will likely go to the mine the next time staff are in that area.

However, Badry said, there was no need to visit the mine during the cleanup and repair, as there are qualified workers at the mine to deal with the situation.

Meanwhile, the compensation board is continuing its investigation into the incident.

Kurt Dieckmann, the board’s director of occupational health and safety, said this morning officials are satisfied all emergency plans were followed.

The evacuation measures saw the workers being taken to the mine’s camp area.

“We were all satisfied,” Dieckmann said of the emergency protocols being followed.

A further plan was in place to evacuate the camp if the wind had changed direction and posed any risk of the propane fumes moving toward the camp.

That plan didn’t have to be put into action, Dieckmann said.

The investigation will look into the entire matter, including the cause and whether any preventative measures could be taken.

Dieckmann said it’s unknown how long the investigation will take, but he expects it will be fairly straightforward.

A safety officer has already visited the site twice, including just a day after the spill.

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