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Bauxite tragedy

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann — The Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners temporarily shut down operations yesterday to facilitate a probe at its Discovery Bay plant to determine the cause of an early-morning derailment of a bauxite train, which left its brakesman dead and the operator hospitalised.

Dead is Robert Martin, 34, of Farm Town in Discovery Bay, while Donavan Stevens, also from Discovery Bay, has been transferred from the St Ann's Bay Hospital to a health facility Kingston.

Martin, who is also a train operator, was working as brakesman when the train got out of control in the vicinity of the plant shortly after 1:00 am yesterday. He had been working with the company for more than 10 years.

Noranda's emergency crew, assisted by the St Ann and Trelawny fire units, carried out rescue operations. However, Martin succumbed to injuries on the spot, while the other worker was rushed to hospital.

A source at the plant, who requested anonymity, told
the Jamaica Observer
that several personnel
from Noranda's overseas headquarters were expected in the island yesterday to conduct investigations into the incident. A team from Jamaica's Department of Mines and Geology was also expected to begin its own investigations.

Angry residents from Farm Town who converged on the scene, hours after the tragedy, said it was not the first time a train had derailed in the vicinity of the plant.

"A negligence," alleged Rupert Martin, father of the deceased. The senior Martin, with tear-filled eyes, lamented having lost his only child. So traumatised was the father that he initially found it difficult to recall his son's age.

"... Fi tell you the truth mi can't even remember nothing wid all what a gwaan," he said. From morning nobody not even come tell we what really happen," he added.

Some residents questioned whether the train was going beyond the speed limit and if measures were taken to turn it on the 'runaway track' which is used to assist in controlling speeding trains, and also if the necessary switches were functioning at the time of the derailment.

Noranda, which was still awaiting the findings of the investigations, was unable to respond to the questions raised by the residents yesterday.

The company, in the meantime, said it was assisting family members of the deceased and injured workers and was making arrangements for counselling support to fellow employees.

"Noranda extends its deepest sympathies to the family of a Noranda Jamaica Bauxite employee who died following a railroad derailment at the bauxite plant in Discovery Bay just after 1:00 am today (yesterday) and to a second employee who was injured in the incident. The two men were piloting the train into the plant when
the accident occurred," a company statement said.

Judy Martin, stepmother of the late brakesman, meanwhile, remembered her stepson as a jovial and friendly person who was always ready to help out in his community. "He was jovial, nice, very friendly," she said.

Added an uncle: "He was a good citizen to the community. He was like the godfather of the community."

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