Inquest examines deaths of mushroom farm workers

A coroner's inquest has begun in Burnaby, B.C., examining the deaths of three workers at a Metro Vancouver mushroom farm.
The men died and two others suffered permanent brain damage when all five were overcome by toxic gases after two entered a compost shed to clear a clogged pipe and three others rushed in to save their collapsed colleagues.

Thirty-five-year-old Ut Tran, 47-year-old Han Pham and 55-year-old Chi Wai (Jimmy) Chan could not be revived after the Sept. 5, 2008 accident at the mushroom farm, in Langley, southeast of Vancouver.

The companies, A1 Mushrooms and HV Truong, along with their three owners, were fined $350,000 in November 2011, after pleading guilty to 10 charges laid under occupational health and safety laws.

B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe called the inquest after examining the 61-page WorkSafeBC report that found the mushroom farm operators ignored repeated warnings about a potentially dangerous composting system in the years before the fatal accident.

As many as 25 witnesses will be called at the estimated seven-day inquest which will examine the broader circumstances of the incident to try to prevent similar deaths in the future.