Security has been cut at the old AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor since April 1. — TC Media file photo
Once upon a time the AbitibiBowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor was a secure place. When it operated it had security guards and since it closed four years ago there has been a security presence. The hours the property was patrolled got cut in recent years and now the hours are down to none.
Kevin Whiffen, a former mill employee who has worked security at the site for the last few years, told the Advertiser that since April 1 there has been no security at the mill.
"We got a letter saying that the site would not have security after April 1 and we were moved to other sites," he said. "None of the guards got laid off but that's 90 patrol hours cut and somewhere down the line it's going to have an affect."
Whiffen said the workers who are there during the day are now expected to provide a level of security but he doesn't think that will be as effective.
"These guys are there doing their jobs, they're busy," he said. "They don't have time to patrol the perimeter and keep an eye on the cameras."
There have been a few incidents where intruders stealing copper wire have been caught in the mill, Whiffen said, and groups of people who show up in the evening have been turned away.
"There's a lot to be said for the deterrent factor of just having a body there," he said. "People are less likely to trespass if they see someone there."
Parts of the mill are not as safe as they once were and could be dangerous for people to wander around in. There is water pooling in places, ceiling tiles that may contain asbestos have fallen and a lot of mold.
"Some people that go in wear respirators," he said. "You don't have to but some people felt with the air it was safer."
One of his major concerns is that people will get inside the building and injure themselves.
"There'd be no one there in the night to hear them," he said. "Imagine if someone fell down and hurt themselves, broke their phone in the falls, there would be no one to find them or help them until at least the next day."
TC Media contacted the Department of Transportation and works, which is responsible for the building but did not receive a response as of publishing deadline.