Between 2002 and 2004, Dryden Weyerhaeuser Paper mill built Recovery Boiler #4 as part of reducing air emissions from their mill. Weyerhaeuser had already completed pretty much the same project at their mill in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where they installed manifolds on all their stacks and chimneys into a superstack to keep the workers out of the plumes of noxious smoke. These manifolds were about $500,000 on a job of 250 million dollars.
Weyerhaeuser told the local building trade unions involved with the Dryden Mill that, unless they would do the job without the manifolds, the work would go non-union. There was not a lot of work in the area at the time, so the unions agreed (except the Ironworker’s union which was outvoted), but most of the workers on this job never found out about these circumstances until after the job was over. By then, most workers were reporting various symptoms they attributed to this job, the main ones being memory loss, stomach problems, heart problems and many more. Because of the work of one member of the IBEW and one from the UA (plumber/pipefitters), the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers(OHCOW) was brought in to do an intake clinic to see if there was a correlation between the job and the symptoms most workers were experiencing. OHCOW wrote a report stating that most of the workers had been poisoned. This clinic filled out Form 8s for all the workers citing CTE (chronic toxic encephalopathy) and submitted them to the WSIB.
Since that time, many of these workers have died, or been forced to retire because of health problems, and most have met a roadblock from the WSIB, trying to make workers prove they were sickened, which is something that can only be confirmed by an autopsy. Quite a few of these workers have given up fighting the WSIB, which is trying to make workers prove they have CTE.
For this reason, the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group has set up a committee to collect, analyze and organize stories to bring to those in positions of power and get justice for these workers and their widows. If you, or someone you know has been affected by this job, they would like to hear these stories. Stories can be kept completely anonymous if requested. To share your stories, go to the Dryden RB4 “Contact Us” page https://thunderbayinjuredworkers.com/dryden-rb4/ and leave contact information, or a short version of your story. If you would prefer to talk to someone directly, let them know and someone will get back to you within a day or two. You can also just email the committee at email@example.com. They would love to hear from you.
Join the upcoming Town Hall meeting
If you or someone you know worked at Weyerhauser between 2002 and 2004, find out more about the project at the upcoming Town Hall (Jan. 31st at 7 p.m.EST/ 6 p.m. CST). Join by phone or online:
Meeting ID: 898 0698 7071
Please download and share Town Hall Meeting poster.
If you cannot attend the meeting yourself OR you know someone affected by health problems that might be related to the project, please complete the referral form at https://www.ohcow.on.ca/about/referrals/