2015 Undergraduate Awards

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This paper addresses the catastrophic Westray mine disaster that rocked the East Coast of Canada in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, in May 1992 and outlines the causes and factors of the deadly explosion that resulted in the death of 26 miners. From a perspective of white-collar crime, particularly governmental crime and corporate violence, this paper asserts that the negligent actions of inspectors from the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and managers from Curragh Resources Inc., the corporation in charge of the Westray mining operation, led to the conditions in the mine that caused the explosion to occur. Despite there being no convictions in the criminal trial that followed the disaster, the report from the Westray Mining Inquiry clearly indicates numerous incidences in which the failure of Curragh managers to implement provincial health and safety regulations created an unsafe work environment for the Westray miners, and because of which a methane explosion was only a matter of time. A comprehensive analysis of the disaster, including theoretical explanations for the negligent actions of government inspectors and mine managers and the structural conditions that may have contributed to a criminogenic environment within the agency and corporation is also included, followed by an analysis of legislation that has been enacted by the Canadian government in the aftermath of this event.


Image of the Westray Memorial in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

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Criminology Commons