Regulator checks oilsands companies in northwest Alberta for odours
PEACE RIVER, Alta. - Alberta's energy regulator is mounting a two-week, around-the-clock compliance check near Peace River to ensure oilsands companies are following new rules on odour emissions.
"We only have so many people in each field office across Alberta, so we've essentially saturated this area with staff to do a targeted sweep," Jeff Toering of the Alberta Energy Regulator said Monday.
The sweep involves two three-person teams moving from facility to facility in alternating 12-hour shifts for a week. Different teams replace them after the first week.
The effort follows public hearings into complaints that gassy odours from Baytex Energy's facilities were driving some families from their homes.
Calgary-based Baytex uses an unusual method of heating bitumen in above-ground tanks to extract oil. Four other companies in the area use a similar process.
The regulator accepted most of the recommendations in a report on the public hearings. The suggestions included taking steps to eliminate gas venting, reduce flaring and conserve all produced gas in the area, where feasible, because it could cause health problems.
The regulator released a directive to that effect, which came into force Monday.
Baytex spokesman Andrew Loosely said the company has installed vapour recovery systems on all its equipment in one of the troublesome fields and is on schedule to install them in the other field by the regulatory deadline of Aug. 15.
"We applaud those efforts that the AER is undertaking," Loosely said. "They'll be out in force, holding our feet to the fire."
Gerald Palanca, who is part of the regulatory team, said inspectors will depend partly on their own sense of smell to determine if the regulations are being followed. But inspectors won't just follow their noses, he said.
Methane detectors will measure gases associated with smelly emissions. Infrared cameras will be able to "see" releases.
"We're not only measuring the odours with the human nose," said Palanca.
Nor is a one-time blast to the nostrils enough to result in enforcement.
"We're after the very strong and offensive (odours)," said Palanca, who added several things will be considered in deciding whether enforcement is required.
"(Is) there ... evidence that the site in question is affecting people? There's also compliance history. There's the duration. All these factors weigh in as part of the compliance assurance program."
Toering said inspectors hope to use this sweep to improve future enforcement of the new odour regulations.
"We're learning and we're going to tweak it as we need."
Read more Business News
- Robbery suspect taken downKamloops - 6:44 am
- Hwy. 97 reopens after crashPenticton / S. Okanagan
- Largest ever regional parkKelowna
- Mad about gas? You're to blameCentral Okanagan
|QHR Technologies Inc||1.37||+0.05|
|Anavex Life Sciences||0.223||-0.0031|
|Copper Mountain Mining||2.66||-0.02|
|Sunrise Resources Ltd||0.02||-0.005|
|Mission Ready Services||0.29||-0.01|
Last night I was privileged to be able to speak at the Greater Westside Board of Trade business awards dinner. Photo: ContributedI talked about Innovation and Collaboration which are two very interes...
There will be a time when you will need to decide who you should appoint as executor of your Will. As well, there may be a time when you will be asked by someone to act as the executor of his or her W...
Part 1 of 2 Photo: Thinkstock.com1. Move in with your parents or in-laws Explain that you're thinking strategically in moving back home. The quickest way to get into the housing market is to ma...