Former SaskEnergy worker who claimed he developed leukemia due to his work dies

Illness also affects five other SaskEnergy employees, claims dead worker's wife

Former SaskEnergy worker who claimed he developed leukemia due to his work dies

A former SaskEnergy employee who raised safety concerns in the line of his work has died of complications from leukemia and stomach cancer, according to a report.

Brian Hodgkinson, 69, died on March 15. He previously spoke out about the risks of exposure from carcinogenic compounds in natural gas, noted CTV News.

Hodgkinson spent 40 years working with natural gas while employed with SaskPower and SaskEnergy, according to the report.

Hodgkinson retired in 2014. One year later, he discovered he had leukemia — blood cancer.

However, it was only in 2022 when Hodgkinson’s wife Josie learned of the elevated risk of leukemia from exposure to benzene, a compound found in natural gas, according to CTV News.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs. 

That year, Jose convinced one university research group to share with her their raw data about benzene. She then brought the data to an occupational medicine specialist in Saskatoon, according to the report.

In November that year, the doctor wrote a letter to the Hodgkinson’s family doctor supporting their claim.

“As I noted in my first letter dated Sept. 27th, benzene is a known (Group 1) carcinogen causing leukemia,” Dr. Niels Koehncke of the Occupational Medicine Clinic at the University of Saskatchewan wrote in his support letter, according to CTV News.

“I realize we don’t have accurate exposure information for Mr. Hodgkinson specifically during his time with SaskEnergy. Nevertheless, I feel these potential exposure levels, particularly over the course of a working lifetime, represent a risk of developing leukemia and support the work-relatedness of his leukemia.”

Other SaskEnergy workers also developed blood cancer, claims worker’s wife

Hodgkinson is far from being the lone SaskEnergy worker to have developed blood cancer, according to Josie.

“Since 2020, Brian is the third worker to die from leukemia. There are three other workers that have or had leukemia or are currently in remission,” she said in the CTV News report.

And Josie claims management at SaskEnergy have told workers not to speak with her, according to the report.

“The job killed Brian, yet we are the bad guys because we have been educating others about safety,” she said.

Hodgkinson is survived by his wife Josie, his son, his step daughter and his stepson, according to his obituary.