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Sherwood Park News: Explosive chemical leaked from Shell Scotford

No injuries in incident as crews contain vapour to plant site

by Dave S. Clark
Wednesday January 31, 2007

Residents and businesses in northern Strathcona County were in lockdown on Sunday afternoon due to the release of an explosive chemical at the Shell Scotford Upgrader.

According to Erin Carrier, a spokesperson for Alberta Environment, the plant began leaking a chemical called polyethylbenzene. Beverlee Loat, spokesperson for Shell Chemical, said the leak was noticed at about 12:15 p.m.

Carrier said once the release was noticed, Shell enacted its emergency call out system, calling over 185 residents and businesses in the area and notifying them to stay inside in an internal room where there are no windows. Carrier said since the chemical is explosive, all precautions were taken.

Carrier said that crews at the plant began to fog the leak, by dousing it with water.
By 3:40 p.m. the leak had been isolated and Alberta Environment were on scene to investigate.

At 4:45 p.m. the leak was stopped and air monitoring at the plant and in the surrounding area found that there were no adverse effects and the all-clear was given.

Loat said air monitoring occurred throughout the incident and no hydrocarbons from the leak were found outside of the plant site.

RCMP were also called to the scene to block off traffic. They closed sections of Range Road 214 and Range Road 215 near the plant. The roads remained closed until about 5 p.m. after the all-clear was given.

There were no injuries in relation to the leak.

According to Loat, Shell is continuing to investigate the incident. She said there are several indications on why the leak may have happened but the investigation is still continuing. She said investigations into these types of incidents typically take a few weeks.

Shell has recently switched its emergency call-out system provider after the old system was deemed to be ineffective after two leaks at the upgrader in September.

Loat said it took the new provider about 10 minutes from start to finish, to notify all the surrounding people with a prerecorded message. A second message was also sent out to notify residents that everything was all-clear.

She said the company was satisfied with the performance but it will be getting feedback from the residents to get their thoughts on the new system.

Mechanical failure was the cause of the previous two leaks

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