Mushroom farm fined for deadly accident

Nov. 26, 2011 at 1:59 AM

SURREY, British Columbia, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The owners of a bankrupt mushroom farm in western Canada were fined Friday for a poison gas release that killed three workers and left two others brain damaged.

A Provincial Court in Surrey, British Columbia, ordered the payment of a total of $350,000 Canadian ($335,000 U.S.) by A-1 Substratum Ltd. and H.V. Truong Ltd., and the two companies' owners, the Vancouver Sun reported. A lawyer for A-1 said the fine will almost certainly not be paid.

"A-1 was bankrupted by this tragedy and so the fine remains outstanding, but will not be collectible," Les Mackoff said. "But it stands as a precedent for the Crown for future cases."

Five employees were overcome by a mixture of hydrogen sulphide and ammonia in a barn Sept. 5, 2008. Ut Tran, Jimmy Chan and Han Pham died, and Michael Phan and Thang Tchen, suffered irreversible brain damage.

The individual owners pleaded guilty in May to violating health and safety regulations. But they were spared jail terms.

"I don't understand why all of this has happened and there's still no jail time, because money doesn't solve my problems," Michael Phan's teenage daughter, Tracey, said. "Please tell me how money can give me happiness like my dad did."

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