Neelon Casting Project

An Occupational Disease Cluster Investigation

The Project

The Neelon Casting Project investigates occupational exposures and working conditions at a steel foundry that produced brake parts in Sudbury, Ontario.

After opening in 1975 as Neelon Casting, it later changed ownership to become Dana Brake Parts and finally Affinia Canada Corp.
In 2007, its US-based parent company and former competitor, the Affinia Group, closed the plant, which then employed 240 workers.
During the 32 years of Neelon’s operations, over 2000 unionized workers were employed there.

Since the beginning of this project over 500 former Neelon workers have contacted USW Local 2020 to document their work experiences at the plant.

OHCOW’s investigation aims to better understand the relationship between the working conditions, the chemical exposures and the large number of health issues seen in former workers.

Working Conditions

•   Extreme Heat   •   Night Shift Work
•   Extended Work Shifts

Chemical Exposures

•   Silica   •   Carbon Monoxide
•   Contaminated Green Sand
•   Lead    •   Antimony   •   Nanoparticles
•   Triethylamine Gas (TEA)
•   Diisocyanates and Solvents

Health Issues

Cancers   •   Respiratory Diseases   •   Autoimmune Disorders   •   Cardiovascular Diseases
Neurological Diseases   •   Birth Defects   •   Miscarriages


OHCOW’s Role

In June 2020 OHCOW received a request for assistance from USW local 2020.

OHCOW immediately established a framework for working with Local 2020, and began consolidating information from previous OHCOW work with Neelon workers.
OHCOW also organized government inspection records and other historical information gathered by the local union
into an electronic library for reference and for sharing with the WSIB.

In October 2020, OHCOW organized a web-based virtual information session in partnership with USW, MLTSD and WSIB to inform former Neelon workers and family members on health conditions of concern, the roles of the different organizations, and how to initiate occupational disease claims through Local 2020 (video available on our Blog).

In addition to gathering medical records and work histories from individual workers, OHCOW committed to producing a historical exposure report detailing the work processes and conditions throughout the history of the Neelon Casting facility.

To that end, an advisory committee of Neelon workers were assembled with the help of Jessica Montgomery and USW 2020 staff, with group meetings and drafting led out by Dale and Bob DeMatteo*.

*Dale and Bob have developed similar reports on the General Electric and Pebra/Ventra Plastics plants in Peterborough

OHCOW is currently in the final stages of preparing the historical exposure report.
This report is expected to be publicly released in 2023.
It will serve as a reference for numerous similar Ontario workplaces, many of which have also ceased operations in recent decades.

Over 180 claims have been initiated by this Project

Gathering Information

Current project participants can provide their personal work history to OHCOW using the button below.
Your work history is the first critical piece of information that must be gathered before any more detailed assessments can be conducted.
This information is also very useful, regardless of whether you have an occupational disease claim with the WSIB.

Before starting this questionnaire, gather records of your employment to help you recall the answers to some of the questions.

 If you, a family member, or a friend have ever worked at Neelon Castings and would like to contribute to this project, please phone 705-675-2461 ext. 229 or email Stephanie Gunson at or Ashley Gibson-Taylor at

Helpful Resources

Using Science in Cancer Adjudication and Policy-Making: Cluster Project Implications

In January 2021, OHCOW hosted a public information session webinar and Facebook Live event for all occupational disease cluster groups in Ontario including all OHCOW’s current occupational disease cluster group projects. These groups included General Electric Peterborough workers, Pebra/Ventra Peterborough workers, Kitchener Rubber workers, McIntyre Powder exposed miners, Neelon Casting workers and anyone suffering from an occupational disease.

The following videos are recordings of each of the sessions:

Using Scientific Evidence to Drive Prevention and Compensation

Dr. Paul Demers
Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Ontario Health Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Disease: Medicolegal Challenges

Prof. Katherine Lippel
CRC in OHS Law, University of Ottawa

A Labour/Worker Point of View

Bob Dematteo
Labour Activist