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Alberta government charges CNRL for oil sands sour gas leak

10 March 2014

The Alberta government has laid 11 charges against CNRL over a release of hydrogen sulphide from the company's Horizon Upgrader project near Fort McMurray in August  2012. Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) opened its investigation after receiving reports of high ambient air monitoring readings in the area.

Image: J Hazard
Image: J Hazard

Complaints were also received from residents of the community of Fort MacKay, the province said in a news release on March 7.

The charges under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act include:
*release of a substance causing a significant adverse effect;
*failure to ensure complete combustion at the flare stack, release of an unapproved substance, and failure to report approval contraventions;
*providing misleading information to the Director and the Fort McKay First Nation; and,
*failing to properly report the contravention and release to the Director and the Fort McKay First Nation.

CNRL was also charged with releasing hydrogen sulphide gas at the same plant back in 2010. Those charges are back in court in June 2014.

Hydrogen sulphide gas is produced during the bitumen upgrading process. It is highly poisonous and flammable with the characteristic odour of rotten eggs.

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