Carol Christian – Today staff
Canadian Natural Resources Limited will be back in court Sept. 14 as one of three defendants answering 53 charges laid in connection with the 2007 deaths of two Chinese temporary workers.
Crown prosecutor Susan Richardson asked for another summons to be issued against the contractor, Chinese government-owned Sinopec Shanghai Engineering, as no one from the company showed up for court yesterday morning in Fort McMurray.
“The Criminal Code does allow for the Crown to proceed against an organization even if it’s not there,” Richardson said later in an interview.
An application to receive the court’s permission to move ahead with an exparte trial could be made on Sept. 14 if Sinopec remains absent.
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety announced the charges in April, three days before the two-year limit ran out for workplace investigations.
The charges were laid in connection to the April 24, 2007, accident. Hong Liang Liu, 33, an electrical engineer, and Genbao Ge, 27, a scaffolder, died after a roof collapsed in a large oil tank where they were working. Both were non-union employees of Sinopec.
The collapse also injured four other workers, two seriously, at the Canadian Natural’s Horizon project, about 75 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
Twenty-nine charges were laid against CNRL, the operator of the Horizon site where the accident occurred. Another 10 charges were laid against contractors Sinopec, and 14 against SSEC Canada Ltd., the Canadian arm of Sinopec. The charges included several counts of failing to ensure the health and safety of the workers.
The maximum penalty for a first offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is $500,000 for each charge.