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Inco pleads guilty, large fine imposed

BY KEITH LACEY klacey@northernlife.ca No amount of money can bring back her husband, but the widow of an Inco miner killed on the job three years ago was pleased the nickel giant admitted its role in the death of her husband.
BY KEITH LACEY

No amount of money can bring back her husband, but the widow of an Inco miner killed on the job three years ago was pleased the nickel giant admitted its role in the death of her husband.

Inco pleaded guilty to one count under the Occupational Health and Safety Act Wednesday in relation to the death of Gord Heffern, 47, in late July of 2001. He was handed a whopping $468,750 fine by Justice Randall Lalande of the Ontario Court of Justice.

The fine imposed was $375,000, plus an automatic 25 per cent surcharge imposed by the courts in matters relating to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Heffern, who had 27 years of experience with Inco, suffered serious burns to 80 per cent of his body and died two days after opening a live oxygen valve at Inco's nickel refinery in Copper Cliff.

Inco pleaded guilty to failing as an employer to provide proper information, supervision or instruction to an operator.
As Ministry of Labour lawyer Wes Wilson pointed out to the court Wednesday, Heffern was the 10th fatality at Inco's Sudbury operations since 1981.

While this matter may be settled, the mining giant will be returning to court in the next month to face further charges for another onsite fatality.

Inco and supervisor Ted Callaghan, a veteran member of Greater Sudbury city council, are facing numerous charges in relation to the company's 11th fatality. Brian Laughlin, 50, was killed when exposed to nickel carbonyl gas in 2001.

Company lawyers and defence counsel Robert Topp, representing Callaghan, will return to court April 28 to speak to those charges.