Inadequate testing led to unsafe conditions

Teck Cominco takes full responsibility for thallium poisoning
||Last Updated: 04/08/2003

Workers at Teck Comino’s lead smelter in Trail, B.C. were exposed to dangerous levels of thallium poisoning because the testing procedures used were inadequate.

Contract maintenance workers were repairing a boiler in August at the plant. Dust samples indicated that there was only a trace amount of thallium present. However, when 65 workers began to exhibit flu-like symptoms, further testing of scaling on metal tubes the workers were recoating revealed much higher levels.

Excessive exposure to thallium can cause organ damage and even death. However, medical tests on the workers indicate that it is unlikely any will suffer permanent harm.