MV Kometik 2006 Fire Investigation Goes to Trial

The Telegram, St John's Newfoundland

Not guilty plea angers fire victims
Company faces charges for shipboard accident

The Telegram

Colleen Dalton walked out of court room No. 4 in provincial court Thursday morning both disheartened and angry.

CanShip Ugland Ltd. — and a man employed by the company — had just pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges, each against them in connection with the death of her husband, Wayne Dalton.

“I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t expect them to own up to anything,” she said.

“It would make you mad to hear the company thinks they’re not responsible. Then who is? It certainly wasn’t Wayne.”

Wayne Dalton, 38, was killed April 8, 2006, when a flash fire broke out in the cargo area of the oil tanker MV Kometik while it was docked in Conception Bay undergoing routine maintenance work.

The Cape Broyle native died of smoke inhalation.

Following an investigation, the Transportation Safety Board laid a number of Canada Labour Code charges, including 17 against CanShip Ugland Ltd. and 18 charges each against Supt. Chesley Lloyd Button, Capt. Gough Everett Wellon and Chief Officer Raymond Keith Riggs

On Thursday, Crown prosecutors Mike Madden and Brenda Boyd agreed to drop three charges each against CanShip and Button, both represented by Cecily Strickland.

A pre-trial conference was set for Nov. 1, when a trial date is expected to be scheduled.

Colleen Dalton has sat through most of the case’s proceedings over the last year, as has Pat Stamp, an employee of East Coast Marine, who was seriously burned in the incident.

Lives devastated by accident

“Pat’s life will never be the same. He’ll never work again and that’s hard on him. Our lives were ruined forever,” Dalton said.

“So, here we are sitting through this (case) and these people say they’re not guilty? Well, we’re the ones paying the price.

“These companies should be worried more about their employees, not just the almighty dollar.”

Wayne Dalton was a deckhand aboard the Kometik when the incident occurred.

He was working in the area of the cargo hold at the time of his death, while Stamp was doing welding work on a steel bracket.

Among the charges against the company and Button are:

- failure to appoint a marine chemist or other qualified person to verify by test that employees entering the cargo oil tank would not be exposed to airborne hazardous substances,

- failure to ensure each employee was made aware of every known or foreseeable health and safety hazard in the area,

- failure to ensure employees have been adequately trained in health and safety,

- failure to ensure that the entry of crude oil or other hazardous substances in the cargo oil tank had been prevented by a secure means of disconnection,

-failure to ensure all electrical equipment that presented a hazard to entry into the cargo oil tank had been disconnected from its power source and locked out,

- failure to prevent hot work from being performed in a cargo oil tank where an explosive or flammable substance was present.

Each of the charges can carry fines ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.

Colleen Dalton plans to return for November’s pre-trial conference.

“I’m going to see this through to the very end,” Dalton said, “for Wayne.”