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Carbon monoxide leak at Pine Grove Correctional Centre sends inmates, staff to hospital

A 33-year-old inmate at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre was found unresponsive in her cell this morning. The cause of her death is still under investigation. File / Global News

Three people have been treated and released from hospital following a suspected carbon monoxide leak at Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, according to a government representative.

Late Wednesday morning, inmates told staff about a “strange smell” on a unit at the women’s facility. Staff called SaskEnergy and “immediately ventilated the unit,” according to Noel Busse, spokesperson for the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety.

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Upon arrival, SaskEnergy crews detected increased levels of carbon monoxide, believed to be from a faulty heater.

“Once it was found that there were elevated levels of carbon monoxide, the inmates were moved out of the unit into the chapel and into a recreational area,” Busse said.

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Two inmates experiencing nausea and headaches were treated in hospital and returned to the correctional centre by 4 p.m. that day. One staff member also received treatment, Busse said.

All inmates were assessed and two were offered hospital treatment, but declined, according to the spokesperson.

Inmates and staff were also returned to the unit Wednesday afternoon after it was deemed safe, Busse said.

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“I’m not sure if there were carbon monoxide detectors in the unit prior to this,” Busse stated. “We did set up carbon monoxide detectors after the fact and I understand that there’s a review going on of carbon monoxide detectors in the facility.”

Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas, though Busse said he believes a substance may have been added to the gas to ensure it was detected if there was a leak.

Pine Grove is a provincial jail overseen by the Saskatchewan government.

In a news release, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) called on the Correctional Service of Canada and Pine Grove to inspect and replace all aging equipment in the facility.

“The families of these inmates and the FSIN are seriously concerned and deserve to know what is happening and why women are being taken to the hospital” said FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear in the release.

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The FSIN’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating complaints about the carbon monoxide leak.

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