Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Syncrude responding to fire at upgrader at oilsands site in northern Alta

Syncrude responding to fire at upgrader at oilsands site in northern Alta

One worker was injured in a fire at the Syncrude oil sand plant in northern Alberta on Tuesday, which emergency crews got under control roughly four hours after it started, a company spokesman said. The Alberta Energy Regulator has a team in the area, monitoring safety and environmental regulations.

The facility has been plagued in the past by outages and below-capacity output, but has been running at around 100 per cent utilization since the second half of 2016, helped by a long period of maintenance in May and June when it was shut during wildfires in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.

"Our focus is on assessing the damage from the fire and securing the damage to the plant".

Syncrude says the safety of its personnel is the top priority.

Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson said a line failure that caused treated naptha to leak sparked the fire.

Once it's safe, Syncrude will complete a damage assessment and teams will fix affected infrastructure.

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Other employees told Global News contractors and Syncrude employees won't be back on site until Monday.

Because of smoke and low levels of Sulphur Dioxide, some people could experience health problems.

A media report says the site has been evacuated and the entrance has been closed.

The smoke from yesterday's fire, combined with the prevailing wind direction at the time, alarmed the nearby Fort McKay First Nation and Alberta Environment.

The site was also closed past year when giant forest fires ravaged the entire Fort McMurray area, forcing the evacuation of 100,000 people and numerous oil facilities. "If you suffer from chronic lung conditions, be sure that you have sufficient medication for at least 2 days".

Operations at the Mildred Lake site were halted in 2015 due to an explosion that didn't cause any injuries or deaths, the Fort McMurray Today newspaper said. No one was injured in that incident.

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