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.
The first phase of this recommendation was implemented in February 2019 and involved creating an interim acute air notification process for H2S and SO2. Work to implement the second phase of this recommendation is in progress and involves updating and finalizing the acute air notification process and establishing acute air quality triggers for other air parameters. Work on this recommendation will encompass the findings of reports from the University of Calgary, which are being undertaken to address recommendation 16.
Recommendation 2: Provide policy guidance on the appropriateness of odour thresholds for emergency response purposes in the Fort McKay community.
Alberta Health continues to compile feedback from the second draft of the jurisdictional review. The work is expected to be completed this summer.
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.
Work continues to assess and characterize emissions from flares, stacks, and froth treatment tailings.
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.
The final report of the review of reporting requirements was presented at the June 11 advisory committee meeting. In response, the AER will provide the committee with information on the steps it has taken to improve the consistency of the application review process for the three upgrader facilities it approved since the Fort McKay Recurrent Human Health Complaints Technical Synthesis was published in 2016. The AER is also reviewing the data submitted by oil sands operators to comply with the Alberta Environment and Parks’s Air Monitoring Directive to determine if the new reporting requirements address the issues of data quality and completeness for these three facilities.
Discussion about including additional parameters with AAAQO has been put on hold because it is dependent on work underway for other recommendations.
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 project scope and funding proposal has been received by Alberta Health and Fort McKay First Nation and is under review.
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.
Work on recommendation 14 and 15 is being done concurrently in two phases and involves developing a monitoring plan. Phase 1 was completed during the Government of Alberta’s 2018-19 fiscal year. The monitoring plan for phase 2 was resubmitted to the Oil Sands Monitoring Program for approval in June 2019. The advisory committee is currently awaiting a decision.
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 continues to be done to implement the first of two phases of this recommendation, which involves conducting two projects led by researchers from the University of Calgary that will provide the scientific evidence needed to support the development of the AAAQO in the area of odour, ecology, and human health.
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