Newsletter: Fall 2014

Heartland Community Information Evening in Gibbons

Hear about current projects, activities and plans from businesses and industry-related organizations within Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. Companies and organizations planning to attend include: Access Pipeline, Agrium, ATCO Group of Companies, Careers Under Construction, Dow Chemical Canada, Enbridge, Families First Society, Government of Alberta, Life in the Heartland partner organizations, North West Redwater Partnership, Pembina Pipeline Corporation, Plains Midstream, Sasol, Shell, TransCanada, Williams Energy, Sturgeon County and the Town of Gibbons (subject to change).

  • October 27, 2014 at the Gibbons Cultural Centre
  • 5115-51 Street, Gibbons
  • Doors open @ 5 pm, Presentations @ 6 pm
  • Light refreshments will be served
  • RSVP: info@lifeintheheartland.com OR call/text 780.231.9802


Volatile Organic Compound Special Project – Bruderheim

A new study will look at the level of Volatile Organic Compounds in and around the Town of Bruderheim.

Beginning this fall, Fort Air Partnership (FAP) will place special equipment at its Bruderheim air monitoring station to collect a 24-hour sample of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) every six days. Collected samples will be analyzed by the Environment Canada Laboratory in Ottawa for approximately 125 different VOC compounds. Funded by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the six month research project may be extended to a full year depending on future funding.

Findings will be compared to VOC levels measured at other selected sites in Alberta and Canada, and a previous study done in 2004-2006 at FAP’s Fort Saskatchewan air monitoring station. They will also be compared to Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives for those pollutants that have objectives in place. Once the special project is complete a final report will be prepared. Key results will be made public.

A volatile organic compound is a carbon-based molecule that may bond to other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, fluorine and/or bromine. VOCs are chemicals that easily form vapors under normal pressures and temperatures. Once emitted into the atmosphere, they are often odorous and can have hazardous effects on plants, animals and humans. They can also react photo-chemically – in the presence of sunlight – to produce additional pollutants. VOCs are produced by a variety of natural and human sources.

Concerns have arisen in recent years from residents in and around the Town of Bruderheim regarding the impact of possible emissions from oil and gas wells and other industrial facilities near the town on local air quality. Responding to these concerns, as well as fulfilling recommendations made in a 2012 network assessment, FAP’s new monitoring plan includes additional VOC monitoring.

In the past, Alberta air quality monitoring had only been required for large scale development related to upstream oil and gas and chemical manufacturing. This means that only industrial facilities with emissions above a government set threshold were required to contribute to air quality monitoring. It is now recognized, by both FAP and the Alberta Government, that a better understanding of the cumulative impact of all emission sources on regional air quality is required, including smaller sources such as oil and gas wells.


Construction Activity Increases at Sturgeon Refinery

Several pile driving rigs are currently working at the North West Redwater Partnership Sturgeon Refinery site, setting the stage for ‘ground-up’ construction of the refinery units. Deep underground work including firewater, cooling water and underground drain lines has been largely completed.

Activity is ramping up at the site of North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon Refinery in Sturgeon County near Redwater. There are currently 600-700 people working at the refinery site, and approximately 2,000 people working on the project in total, including in engineering offices throughout the province and worldwide. Major material procurement is nearly complete, and major unit contractors have been engaged for the construction of the specialized process units throughout the refinery.

North West Redwater Partnership expects the project workforce to peak between 3,000-5,000 people on site during later 2015 and in 2016. Up to 3,000 other jobs will be created in regional fabrication shops, building process modules which will be transported to the site upon completion. Phase 1 of the refinery, processing 50,000 barrels per day of bitumen, is scheduled to be operational by September, 2017.

For more information about the Sturgeon Refinery, to see employment postings, or to contact the company: www.nwrpartnership.com.


Regional Emergency Response Showcased

NRCAER members and partners display regional response resources.

Mutual aid emergency response group Northeast Region Community Awareness Emergency Response (NRCAER) joined in Fort Saskatchewan’s annual Neighbour Day event on September 6th, taking safety messages to the community and showcasing a number of resources in the region.

“Our members have resources that residents wouldn’t normally see and Neighbour Day was an ideal opportunity to bring them out and start conversations with residents about emergency preparedness,” says Brenda Gheran, NRCAER’s Executive Director.

Public safety is an area where local industry, municipal response departments and provincial agencies work closely together. Industries and municipalities have emergency response plans, and residents also need to do their part to stay safe, informed and prepared. This includes having a family emergency plan and kit, knowing what to do and where to obtain information. This year, several municipalities have launched community alert systems for their residents, including Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, Lamont County and the towns of Bruderheim and Lamont. Visit your municipal website or nrcaer.com/notification to register.


New Website Service Offers Easy Public Access to Local Air Quality Data

A new Fort Air Partnership service provides you hourly readings of air quality in the region.

Fort Air Partnership (FAP) has just launched a new service on www.fortair.org which gives the public direct access to near real time hourly readings from FAP’s eight continuous monitoring stations. In addition to the current 19 substances tracked by FAP, four meteorological conditions (temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction) can be viewed on demand.

The live-to-web data feed is interactive, making it possible for the user to see multiple substances for one station, or one substance for multiple stations. With a click of the mouse, the readings can be compared to provincial objectives. Variables such as dates and times can be adjusted and graphs can be easily saved or printed.

“We created this new service because it’s important to us and the public that the air quality data we collect is as transparent and available as possible. This is a very easy and direct way to communicate data of the greatest interest to the individual,” explained FAP Executive Director Nadine Blaney. For example, someone in the Lamont area interested in only local sulfur dioxide and methane readings can easily go to FAP’s website and track those readings coming from the Lamont County station.

FAP has quality controls in place to ensure data recording is accurate. It is important to note that the data available on the FAP live data site are raw numbers. Validated data is stored permanently in the Clean Air Strategic Alliance Data Warehouse. This historical data can be reviewed on-line at www.casadatawarehouse.org.


Sturgeon Refinery Workforce Busing Program Begins

Buses transporting Sturgeon Refinery workers are helping to alleviate traffic congestion in the area.

As construction activities increase at the Sturgeon Refinery in Sturgeon County near Redwater, so does the size of the workforce. A busing program was launched September 15 for the Sturgeon Refinery workforce. Coach-style buses are transporting workers from designated regional pick up areas to the project site. The program began with five routes running Monday through Friday, and will expand with additional routes as the workforce continues to grow.

“The safety and convenience of both our workforce, and the communities surrounding our project site, are of utmost importance to us,” explains George Matwychuk, Transportation Coordinator for North West Redwater Partnership (NWRP). “We are very pleased to launch a busing program and have taken steps to ensure that bus transportation is the preferred method of travel to the project site.”

For communities and residents surrounding the Sturgeon Refinery site, a busing program is highly beneficial. The number of passenger vehicles travelling to site each day will decrease. This helps alleviate congestion pressures and increases road safety for the local transportation network. Fewer passenger vehicles also mean reduced emissions.

Those travelling by bus will appreciate large, modern coaches with WiFi and washroom facilities. Currently, pick-up locations include various points in Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, and Gibbons. Route maps and schedules are available on NWRP’s website. Bus commuters are also encouraged to follow @NWRSiteTransit on Twitter for updates and notices.

“Anyone who lives or works in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland area is aware of the pressures on the transportation system due to industrial and municipal growth,” comments Vanessa Goodman, Chair of Life in the Heartland. “A formal transportation study was conducted a few years ago to identify bottlenecks and recommendations for improvements. One of the key recommendations was busing programs, so we’re very supportive of NWRP’s efforts to launch this program for their workforce.”

Busing programs for major construction projects in the region have proven very successful in the past. NWRP expects their busing program to remain active until after peak construction when the size of the workforce decreases significantly. For more information on NWRP’s busing program, employment opportunities, or their Sturgeon Refinery project, visit www.nwrpartnership.com, email info@nwrpartnership.com or phone the site main gate office at 587.756.8013.


Live Exercise in Bruderheim Successful

First responders applied water and suppression foam at the scene of an emergency exercise.

On September 24th, NRCAER held a live emergency exercise in the Town of Bruderheim. “The scenario simulated a rail incident involving hazardous materials, and provided responders with an opportunity to work together in the field,” says NRCAER Executive Director Brenda Gheran.

Representatives from 25 organizations took part in the day. “Our members and partners all exercise their individual plans regularly, however a multi-agency response expands knowledge and awareness of all roles and responsibilities of these agencies in a large scale incident,” Gheran says. To support the field response, an Emergency Operations Centre was established giving participants the chance to exercise a variety of roles using the Incident Command System. Additionally, the Bruderheim Alert System was tested, and Bruderheim School held a Shelter in Place drill.

Life in the Heartland

Can’t attend or want to join the conversation?

We’ll be live-tweeting from the event. Follow @LifeinHeartland or search #ABHeartland.