Dryden Weyerhaeuser Recovery Boiler #4 (RB4)

An Occupational Disease Cluster Investigation

The Project

The Dryden Weyerhaeuser Recovery Boiler #4 project seeks to further investigate the RB4 exposures and related health issues.

If you have information to contribute to this project, see our questionnaire below.

Dryden Project 2024 Update

What’s Coming Next?

The next steps for this project include:

  • Carrying out an up-to-date literature review to evaluate the latest evidence linking exposures to paper mill emissions with adverse health effects including CTE.
  • Finishing working on the sentinel cases as this may encourage more workers to come forward and pave the way for others to submit claims with similar health complaints.
  • Continuing to participate in committee meetings and town hall meetings to engage new workers and assist with the planning for an in-person town hall meeting.
  • Continuing to follow-up with workers and assist wherever possible as they navigate the WSIB claims process. Also, connect them to the OWA where appropriate.
  • Continuing to open files for any new workers that come into this project and add them to our active worker section on the master list.

We want to hear from you!

  • Did you or a family member work on the project between 2002-2004?
  • Do you need assistance with opening an RB4 WSIB claim?
  • Do you need direction on how to appeal a denied WSIB claim?
  • Are you experiencing neurological and/or other illnesses that you feel are due to your workplace exposures?

Contact Us

Contact OHCOW at 807-623-3566 for further assistance.

The History

Between 2002 and 2004, Dryden Weyerhaeuser Paper Mill built Recovery Boiler #4 in an effort to reduce air emissions from their mill.
Weyerhaeuser had already completed a similar project at their mill in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where they installed manifolds on all their stacks and chimneys into a superstack to keep the workers out of the plumes of noxious smoke.

These manifolds cost approximately $500,000 on a job of 250 million dollars.

Weyerhaeuser told the local building trade unions involved with the Dryden Mill that, unless they would do the job without the manifolds, the work would go non-union.
There was not a lot of work in the area at the time, so the unions agreed...except the Ironworker’s union which was outvoted.
Most of the workers on this job did not learn of these circumstances until well after the job had finished.
By then, most workers were reporting various symptoms, which they attributed to this job.

Since that time, many of these workers have died, or been forced to retire because of health problems.
Most have met a roadblock from the WSIB, which is trying to make workers prove they have work-related Chronic Toxic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is something that can only be confirmed by an autopsy.


  •   Mercury   •   Hydrogen sulfide   •   Methyl mercaptan   •   Carbon monoxide

among multiple other chemical exposures

Related Issues

•   Neurological*   •   Stomach   •   Intestinal   •   Heart conditions

* especially memory issues



OHCOW was brought in to determine if there was a correlation between the job and the symptoms most workers were experiencing.

In late 2004, OHCOW held an intake clinic to gather information regarding health issues experienced by workers.

OHCOW assisted in the filing of hundreds of WSIB claims for Chronic Toxic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other health conditions.

OHCOW is now in the process of outreach to follow up with workers regarding the outcomes of their claims and their current health status.


As the cluster investigation is still ongoing, OHCOW is still seeking input from workers who worked at the Air Emissions Recovery Boiler #4 Project at Weyerhaeuser Pulp and Paper Mill in Dryden, Ontario between 2002 – 2004

If you, or one of your family members*, has been affected by this situation, we would appreciate you taking the time to complete our questionnaire.

*For deceased workers, the questionnaire can be completed by their next-of-kin.

Stories from Survivors

The following excerpts are taken from stories about people who worked on the construction of Dryden Weyerhaeuser Recovery Boiler #4

Be sure to click on the link to read the entire story...

Jim Littleford

When Jim joined the RB4 project at the Dryden Paper Mill in June of 2003, this young, dedicated and passionate worker could never have anticipated his life would be forever changed. The once sharp and quick-witted man was now suffering from memory loss and brain fog. His energy for work had been replaced with crippling headaches, daily battles with gastrointestinal problems and a constant battle with tinnitus. His passion for the job was over-ridden by the countless appointments to doctor offices and specialists. His life became consumed by appointments to cardiologists, neurologists and neuropsychologists. Doctors’ offices any person would dread even opening the door to, they became part of Jim’s normal routine in his desperate need to find answers about what was happening in his body.


Wayne Goderre

Wayne began his employment on the Dryden Mill project in 2002 and for 16 months worked as the health and safety representative of the electricians’ union. As the 4th person hired on the job, Wayne recalled no specific training for his role aside from a 10-minute safety video on the first day of the job. Equipped with a half-mask containing purple filters designed for only working 8 hours a day and a meter to measure various chemicals such as H2S, Oxygen, Chlorine, and Co2, Wayne was sent on his way to address any safety concerns of the electricians on the job.


Gerry Landry

After working on the Dryden Recovery Boiler 4 project - Gerry wished he would never have to work in Pulp and Paper again. On the Dryden RB4 project, Gerry was working with a team of welders to correct an engineering mistake which had caused a misalignment in piping. He worked at heights on the 16th floor and was level with the two biggest chimneys of the mill. It was during these few weeks on the job that Gerry was exposed to countless chemicals and toxins.


Mr. Smith*

Mr. Smith started working with the Dryden RB4 project in the Fall of 2002 as an iron worker. His responsibility was to erect the iron above all enclosed areas. He also explains working in the bone yard, an area behind the mill, where portions of the building were pre-erected and then moved by truck to the main area. Similarly, to other mills, the bone yard was where mercury was dumped, reflecting past ill practices of the mill. At the end of the day, they swept the iron work area, the thick smoke lingered. The smoke was always there. It was worse during the winter months. It was worse depending on the direction of the wind. But regardless, it was always there.


* Name changed to maintain confidentiality