(Kyle Bakx/CBC) David Thurton is CBC's mobile journalist in Fort McMurray. He's worked for CBC in the Maritimes & in Canada's Arctic. Email: email@example.com Westray remembered: explosion killed 26 N.S. coal miners in 1992 Alberta's association of trade unions is questioning whether Suncor managers should face criminal charges, after court documents show the company ignored safety problems at a tailings pond months before a worker fell in and drowned in January 2014. Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said the province should consider laying criminal charges under the Westray Act, which came into force after the Nova Scotia Westray mining disaster killed 26 coal miners in 1992. An amendment to Canada's Criminal Code, the Westray Act was enacted by the federal government in 2004 to hold corporations and managers criminally liable for workers' injuries. Westray remembered: explosion killed 26 N.S. coal miners in 1992 "Somehow, these incidents just keep happening over and over again where employers and managers are not taking the proper steps to keep their workers safe," McGowan said. "I think it's appropriate to consider laying criminal charges against individual managers." Court documents first obtained by CBC News show seven months before tailings pond operator Jerry Cooper drowned in the icy tailings pond at a Suncor oilsands site near Fort McMurray, the company had recorded a series of "near misses" and "incident reports" stemming from softened ground caused by pipeline leaks in the same tailings pond area. 'Employers and managers are not taking the proper steps to keep their workers safe.' - Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour "The defendant should have been aware of the potential danger of drowning to a line patrol operator, in winter conditions and during the hours of darkness, arising from a leak in a tailings pipeline," says the agreed statement of facts from a provincial court case in April.
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