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Reporting On Our Progress

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
Lead: AER

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
Lead: AEP

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
Lead: AER

In Progress

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.
Alberta Health has reviewed all parameters noted in the focal parameter list (section 6.6.4 of the report) and has made recommendations as to which parameters may require acute emergency protective air quality monitoring. The review and recommendations have been shared with members of the Fort McKay AQOAC for feedback on next steps.
Lead: AEP

Recommendation 2: Provide policy guidance on the appropriateness of odour thresholds for emergency response purposes in the Fort McKay community.
Alberta Health has conducted a jurisdictional review of how other organizations use odour monitoring information during emergency events. The review has been circulated to members of the Fort McKay AQOAC for feedback. Next steps will be determined in fall 2018. 
Lead: Government of Alberta

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.
The draft odour-response protocol and checklist (recommendation 5) continue to be tested through a pilot project. The protocol and checklist have been tested on seven odour complaints since the pilot launched. In addition, several workshops have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of the protocol and checklist and to identify gaps and areas for improvement. Given the limited opportunities to test, the pilot has been extended to the fall. Once the pilot ends, the data will be shared with the recommendation 9 subcommittee to help with the work being done to identify the source of emissions.
Lead: AER

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.
See recommendation 4.
Lead: AER

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.
The subcommittee has drafted a work plan to assess fixed and fugitive-emission sources. The initial focus will be to assess parameters that cause odours from tailings ponds, followed by flares and vents. Further work to determine resourcing and funding is required before the work plan can be finalized.
Lead: Industry

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 University of Toronto researcher is drafting a proposal to address this recommendation. The proposal will be shared with Alberta Health and the Fort McKay First Nation and Métis community this 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.
The subcommittee is developing a monitoring plan, which is expected to be presented to the Fort McKay AQOAC in fall 2018.
Lead: AEP

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.
See recommendation 14.
Lead: AEP

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.
The subcommittee met for the first time in May 2017. Further discussions are occurring to determine the scope of work needed to develop and apply this policy. The subcommittee is also reviewing work that has been done by groups other than the Fort McKay AQOAC since the recommendations to address odours and air quality in Fort McKay were released in September 2016.
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.
Lead: AER

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  

Recommendation 12: Review reporting requirements for oil sands EPEA approvals 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.
Lead: AER


Status of Recommendations