Holmes Foundry's Legacy of Death
May 6, 1999
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CAW National President Buzz Hargrove says Ontario is sitting on a health and safety time bomb. He made the comment as the CAW released its second report on the health of workers at the former Holmes Foundry and Caposite plants in Sarnia.
The report deals with government inspection documents; documents which show inspectors tolerated dangerous working conditions at the facility for decades; resulting in a pattern of ill health among former employees and their families.
Hargrove says we can expect more cases like this, if the government continues to allow industry to police itself on health and safety issues.
CAW National President
"There's absolutely no reason for any worker in this province to be comfortable that employers and government, left to themselves, will ensure that another group of workers won't face the same crisis"
Workers have developed asbestosis, silicosis, cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses. Frank Vetturetti worked in the foundry as a maintenance mechanic for 15 years and developed colon cancer long after he retired.
Former Holmes Foundry Worker
"It's about thirty years we're talking about and now I start getting troubles so it really concern me. I saw a lot of my friends, workers they pass away, I mean one right after the other, at least a dozen I know so that kind of concerns me"
His wife Nicole has developed an asbestos scarring on her lung. Doctors say it came from exposure to the asbestos on Frank's work clothes and lunch box. Nicole is angry that the government knew of the health hazards and said nothing.
"Why didn't they do something about it? I'm not very proud about the government today. I was younger before, I didn't understand, but now I understand more, I'm more informed and I'm very disappointed"
The health hazard was not confined just to those who worked in the facility. The CAW now has more than 300 files on people who came in contact with the foundry.
Windsor Health & Safety Centre
"We're discovering that the milkman for instance that went into the plant once a day or once every couple of days has asbestosis, the guy that just loaded up the machine"
While the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has accepted 51 of 54 claims initially submitted for industrial diseases arising from the Holmes facilities, the CAW has over 350 files it is getting ready for the Board claims.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."