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UpstreamOnline: Heavy-oil upgrader in Alberta leak alert

SHELL’S heavy-oil upgrader in Scotford, Alberta, near the provincial capital of Edmonton, has leaked potentially deadly sour gas for the second time in less than a week, writes Dann Rogers.

Alberta’s Energy & Utilities Board said small quantities of hydrogen sulphide, also known as sour gas, and sulphur dioxide leaked from a hydrogen cracking unit at the plant.

The leaky unit had to be depressurised, and during that time Shell sprayed the unit with water to keep it cool and prevent the hydrogen sulphide, which is highly flammable, from catching fire.

Air-quality tests did not detect any sour gas in the immediate area, and there were no
injuries. About 1400 workers from the plant and surrounding chemical plants were evacuated to safe locations, said a Shell spokesman. There were no injuries, he added.

People in about 120 residences and businesses within a five-kilometre radius of the plant were also called and told to stay indoors until further notice, Provencal said.
“We did the off-site and on-site air monitoring throughout the incident and after the inci¬dent there were no levels of concern detected off-site,” he said.

Alberta’s environment department said it plans to meet with Shell to discuss why there have been two leaks in under a week.

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