Ettamogah newsprint mill Norske Skog to swing into production after deaths of two workers from gas inhalation

Still grieving: Flags remained at half mast on Monday in the winter sun outside the Norske Skog offices at Ettamogah.
Still grieving: Flags remained at half mast on Monday in the winter sun outside the Norske Skog offices at Ettamogah.

PRODUCTION is set to restart at the Norske Skog paper mill following the deaths of two workers from gas inhalation last month.

Plant manager Milo Foster said the paper machine at the Ettamogah factory would be put back into action on Wednesday morning.

It will follow the starting up on Tuesday of the fibre system, which involves radiata pine and recycled fibre from wastepaper being pulped. 

Production was halted at the mill after two men, Ben Pascall and Lyndon Quinliven, died from exposure to hydrogen sulphide last month during maintenance work.

Another employee Tom Johnson recovered after being on life support.

Mr Foster said resumption of work would be important psychologically for the crews of the newsprint plant.

“It’s massively important for the morale of the employees, everybody seems anxious to get back to work and spend some time with their mates and get the machine running,” he said.

“It’s just a massive tragedy, I don’t think things will ever be quite the same, but people have been able to grieve.

Fondly remembered: Lyndon Quinliven and Ben Pascall. Tributes to the two men remain at the front entrance to the Norske Skog mill.

Fondly remembered: Lyndon Quinliven and Ben Pascall. Tributes to the two men remain at the front entrance to the Norske Skog mill.

“We’ve had the two funerals and good news with Tom Johnson’s recovery, but I think the people are still happy to come back to work although they are still grieving.”

To mark the resumption of regular rosters on Tuesday, a blessing of the site will be conducted at 8am by industrial chaplain David Poole, who has been involved in counselling of workers.

Since the tragedy on May 24 there has been a skeleton staff of between 10 and 30 at the mill.

Tuesday’s switch-up will see the workforce become triple that latter figure.

Counsellors will be available at the factory throughout this week.

In addition to coping with the impact of the gas tragedy, the workers have been coming to terms with the death of another colleague Davern Neall.

He died in a non-suspicious circumstances on Thursday with Mr Foster saying he was saddened and offered condolences to Mr Neall’s family. 

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