Oilsands giant CNRL fined $500K for hydrogen sulphide gas leaks by Emily Mertz with files from John Cotter, June 24, 2016, Global News
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. will have to pay $500,000 for releasing a potentially deadly gas in two separate incidents at its Horizon facility in 2010 and 2012.
Three environmental charges were laid after a hydrogen sulphide gas leak at the oilsands upgrader facility north of Fort McMurray in May 2010.
CNRL’s sulphur recovery unit failed and some gas escaped at the ground level and through a flare stack. It happened on May 28, 2010 but the company didn’t report it until six days later, according to the province. Not immediately reporting a delay contravenes a requirement of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, so CNRL was fined $350,000. [While Encana gets away with keeping secret the company illegally fracturing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers for years and the regulators get away with fraudulently covering it up? Where’s Alberta Attorney General?]
Then, in August 2012, 11 environmental charges were laid after a similar hydrogen sulphide gas leak at the facility. The plant’s sulphur recovery unit failed again and an unknown amount of the gas escaped through a flare stack.
The province learned of the leaks after getting complaints from the Fort McKay First Nation and reports from air-monitoring stations. [How did the province learn of Encana frac’ing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers? Ernst plunked the documented Encana evidence in front of the Minister of Environment’s lap with Deputy Minister Peter Watson (now Chair of the NEB), Assistant Deputy Minister Bev Yee, Hydrogeologist Rob George, Minister’s aid and more witnessing. Then Minister Guy Boutilier turned his body abruptly away so he wouldnt have to look at the evidence or acknowledge its existence.. Read Investigative Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s new book Slick Water for more gory details of how things are done to protect Encana in Alberta]
The gas that escaped didn’t fully combust, which was a contravention of the plant’s approval. The company admitted to breaching the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and was fined $150,000.
The province announced the penalties against CNRL Friday. [Why now, so many years later? If it takes this many years to penalize CNRL, then surely Alberta can even more easily penalize Encana – the evidence has been amply filed and publicly available.]
Of the total fine, $425,000 will go to the University of Calgary for research into the toxicological effects of chemicals measured in the air in and around Fort MacKay. [How better to continue the big oil control and corruption of the “experts” at Alberta universities?]
Alberta Environment says hydrogen sulphide can be highly toxic and smells like rotten eggs. Exposure at low concentrations can irritate the eyes, nose and throat or cause headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Exposure at higher concentrations can result in sleepiness, blurred vision or even death as a result of respiratory failure. [Emphasis added]
Oilsands producer penalized $500,000 for hydrogen sulphide releases by Calgary Herald, June 24, 2016
Oilsands producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been penalized $500,000 for two incidents involving the release of hydrogen sulphide from its operations north of Fort McMurray, the province announced Friday.
According to Alberta Environment, the Calgary-based petroleum producer was penalized for separate incidents in 2010 and 2012 in which hydrogen sulphide escaped from its Horizon oilsands operations.
In the first incident, on May 28, 2010, a sulfur recovery unit (SRU) at the plant failed, allowing some hydrogen sulphide to escape at both ground level and through a flare stack, said Jamie Hanlon of Alberta Environment and Parks.
The company reported the incident to the department six days later, contravening the province’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act that requires operators to immediately report such a release. The violation led to a $350,000 penalty.
Short-term exposure to hydrogen sulphide — which smells like rotten eggs — can cause eye and respiratory irritation. Longer-term exposure or in higher concentrations can cause serious injuries or death, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Hanlon said the incident led to several workers being treated at the facility’s medical centre and two were off work for one week.
In August 2012, another release occurred after the plant’s sulfur recovery unit failed. An unknown quantity of hydrogen sulphide gas escaped through a flare stack after it didn’t fully combust the gas.
“Some people, mainly from Fort MacKay, complained about odours,” said the statement of facts.
“Investigations could not determine whether the people who encountered the odours smelled hydrogen sulphide or some other unknown substance from an unknown source.”
The company was penalized $150,000 for contravention of the plant’s approval.
At a provincial court hearing in Sherwood Park on Friday, the company pleaded guilty to two charges, while four charges were withdrawn and the company was found not guilty of eight others, Hanlon said.
“Any time where we have an incident of a release or any case where people or the environment are affected, we definitely take those seriously,” he said. “We work to ensure that the companies are held to the standard that folks would expect.”
The company was not immediately available for comment.
The government said $425,000 of the penalty will go to University of Calgary researchers who will research the toxicological effects of chemicals measured in the air around Fort MacKay. [Emphasis added]
Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) has been fined $500,000 for two unrelated incidents involving the release of poisonous hydrogen sulphide from its Horizon oilsands facility.
The camp — about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray — breached the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act on May 28, 2010, when the plant’s sulphur recovery unit failed, allowing hydrogen sulphide to escape at ground level and through a flare stack.
The gas, which smell of rotten eggs, is highly poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive.
The company didn’t report the failure for nearly a month, even though it was required to report it immediately. The violation cost CNRL $350,000.
In an unrelated incident, on Aug. 2, 2012, the sulphur recovery unit failed again, releasing an unknown amount of hydrogen sulphide gas into the air when it wasn’t fully combusted.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) began investigating after receiving reports of high air monitoring readings in the area and complaints from people in Fort MacKay.
The company was charged for the leak, failing to report the incident and provided misleading information to the government and the Fort MacKay First Nation.
Each charge carried a possible fine of $500,000. [Why fine CNRL so little? To ensure “business as usual?”]
The company was found guilty only of contravening the conditions of the plant’s approval and was fined $150,000 after admitting to the incident.
The rest of the charges were dismissed or withdrawn.
Researchers at the University of Calgary will receive $425,000 from the penalties to study the toxicological effects of chemicals in the air in and around Fort MacKay.
The rest of the fines will go to the regulator. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
“We should probably stop fracking there right now”
2014 02 03: Satellite data sound alarm on safety of high pressure injection; data shows significant ground deformation (subsidence and uplift) in area of CNRL leak, 10 times faster than lower-pressure injection