This page summarizes recommendations made to improve air quality and reduce offensive odours in Fort McKay. The status and lead agency for each recommendation are indicated below.
Recommendation 3: Share oil sands operators’ emergency response plans (ERPs)—or relevant sections—with the community of Fort McKay through a regulatory mechanism.
Industry has provided the relevant information from ERPs to the Fort McKay community. Information was shared without the need of a regulatory mechanism. Completed in October 2017
Recommendation 4: Develop an odour response protocol that is specific to the Fort McKay community and consistent with the odour management policy of the Government of Alberta.
Recommendation 5: Develop a checklist of operating conditions that an operator is to complete when an odour complaint is received by the AER and the operator is contacted by the AER.
The pilot project to develop odour response protocols (recommendation 4) and an operator checklist (recommendation 5) are complete. Data and lessons learned have been shared with the recommendation 9 subcommittee to help identify the source of emissions. There is now a consistent process being followed by the AER to investigate odour and air quality complaints made by Fort McKay with respect to oil sands operations, which includes a letter provided to the complainant that outlines any findings. Completed in November 2018.
Recommendation 7: Provide all parties with access to real-time air-monitoring data collected by Environment and Climate Change Canada in the Fort McKay community.
Air quality data from the Oski-ôtin research station are now on the Government of Canada open data portal. Data are available at weekly intervals, typically one week after the data have been collected. Since this information is publicly available, a data-sharing agreement was not required. Completed in September 2017
Lead: Environment and Climate Change Canada
Recommendation 8: Clarify who is accountable for supporting the complaint response and notification when ambient air monitoring identifies ground-level concentration exceedances, and ensure that this is captured in the odour response protocol described in recommendation 4.
The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) has been confirmed as the agency responsible for reporting to stakeholders, the AER, and the Alberta Government ground-level concentrations that exceed the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQO). WBEA has been responsible for reporting exceedances in the past, but this has now been formalized in the airshed operational contract with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Completed in August 2017
Recommendation 17: Establish an air-quality task force to oversee implementation of the recommendations in the report.
The Fort McKay Air Quality and Odours Advisory Committee (AQOAC) was established in December 2016. The committee is chaired by the AER, Alberta Health, and the Fort McKay First Nation and Métis community, and includes representatives from AEP, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and industry. Completed in December 2016
Recommendation 1: Monitor ambient air quality for acute concentrations of H2S and SO2 for emergency response in the Fort McKay community. Monitoring should be done by AEP and be funded by industry, and acute thresholds for H2S and SO2 concentrations should be approved by Alberta Health in discussion with Fort McKay.
This recommendation is being implemented in two phases. The first phase is complete and involved creating an interim acute air notification process for H2S and SO2.
In February 2019, the interim acute air notification process was tested during an odour event. Overall, the notification process worked, there were open lines of communication between stakeholders and the community, and there was no significant risk to the community. Lessons learned from this event resulted in a more streamlined and concise process, with refined stakeholder roles and responsibilities.
Phase 2 is underway and involves finalizing the acute air notification process, which will include acute air quality triggers for other parameters. The work is expected to be completed in 2019.
Recommendation 2: Provide policy guidance on the appropriateness of odour thresholds for emergency response purposes in the Fort McKay community.Feedback from the second draft of the jurisdictional review has been received and is being compiled by Alberta Health. In general, the feedback was positive. The work is expected to be completed over the summer of 2019.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Recommendation 9: Assess fixed- and fugitive-emission sources, focusing on the parameters in the air quality focal parameter list (section 6.6.4 of the report) and on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in order to develop a roadmap for a systematic process for examining the dominant emission sources of the parameters in the focal parameter list.
Working groups are underway to assess emissions from flares, stacks, and the froth treatment of tailings. Sampling and modelling have been initiated to determine fixed and fugitive emission sources.
Lead: AER and Industry
Recommendation 12: Review reporting requirements for oil sands EPEA approvals with respect to air emissions in order to improve the consistency of monthly and annual reporting, units of measurements, and quality assurance and quality control; to include additional parameters with AAAQOs; and to consider transparency and public access to the industry reports.
A review of the consistency, units of measure and quality assurance and quality control of reporting requirements has been conducted and a report of findings has been drafted.
Recommendation 13: Assess the health implications on the Fort McKay community based on the ambient monitoring results, specifically the parameters in the air quality and odorant focal parameter lists (section 6.6.4 of the report) that were in concentrations greater than standards, limits, objectives, and thresholds. The assessment must consider limitations in the data, how applicable the thresholds are to human health, and what it means to the community when parameters are exceeded.
A preliminary proposal for two projects will be received by Alberta Health and the Fort McKay First Nation in May 2019. The proposal is being developed further and will be shared with the advisory committee over the summer.
Lead: Alberta Health
Recommendation 14: Establish an integrated, consistent approach to air quality monitoring from source (industry emissions) to fenceline (Mildred Lake – AMS02, Mannix – AMS05, Lower Camp – AMS11) to ambient monitoring stations (AMS01 and Oski-ôtin). Changes to monitoring should consider contaminants on the air quality focal parameter list (section 6.6.4 of the report). Consider polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in future monitoring plans.
Recommendation 15: Improve the consistency in monitoring H2S and total reduced sulphur, including examining individual sulphur compounds under the oil sands’ ambient-air-monitoring network.
Recommendation 14 will establish an integrated and consistent approach to air quality monitoring whereas recommendation 15 will improve the consistency of H2S and TRS monitoring. The recommendations will be implemented in two phases. Phase 1 of the monitoring plan was implemented through the Oil Sands Monitoring Program and the WBEA during the GoA’s 2018-19 fiscal year. Phase 2 of the monitoring plan was submitted to the Oil Sands Monitoring funding application process in November 2018. The advisory committee is currently awaiting a decision. If approved, implementation of the plan will take place during the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Recommendation 16: Develop and apply ambient air quality policy for parameters that do not have AAAQOs in the areas of odour, ecology, and human health.
Work to implement this recommendation will be done in two phases. The first phase will involve conducting two projects led by researchers from the University of Calgary. This work will provide the scientific evidence that will help develop the AAAQOs in the area of odour, ecological, and human health. The first project will look at how how THC and NMHC data in Alberta can be used to inform and assess odour impacts and to protect the environment and human health. The second project will work to compile and synthesize existing data on select air parameters to further inform the development of AAAQOs. Work on the two projects is underway and will take place over the next 6-12 months.
Phase 2 of this recommendation will involve developing an air quality policy for these parameters and will begin once phase 1 is complete.
Lead: Government of Alberta
The following recommendations are pending because work to implement them is dependent on the implementation of other recommendations.
Recommendation 6: Provide policy guidance on the use and application of odour thresholds in the Fort McKay community, and clarify how the AER uses environmental protection orders under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) to address offensive odours.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Recommendation 10: Conduct a targeted examination of emissions control based on the findings from recommendation 9, and implement the controls through a multiyear continuous improvement program.
Recommendation 11: Consider odours generated by project activities when modelling air dispersion for EPEA applications and environmental impact assessments, and review the Air Quality Model Guideline to improve the consistency, among operators, of air dispersion modelling for odours.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Status of Recommendations