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Edmonton Sun.com: Evacuation after sour gas leak

Leaking sour gas pipeline causes evacuation of several area residents in southwestern Alberta

By CP    
 
BEAVER MINES, Alta. — Some residents were evacuated from their homes in southwestern Alberta after a pipeline owned by Shell Canada carrying toxic sour gas began to leak this morning.

The number of evacuees wasn’t clear this afternoon, with the provincial regulator saying “several” and Shell Canada reporting “several families.” Other residents were advised to remain in their homes.

At 11 parts per billion, sour gas levels in the area were well below those considered harmful to human health, said Davis Sheremata, spokesman for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board spokesman. “It smells bad, but the levels are not where they would be considered a danger. We’re working to ensure that remains the case.”

Sour gas is not considered dangerous until it reaches levels of 10 parts per million, Sheremata said. No injuries were reported.

The leak, near the community of Beaver Mines about 80 kilometres west of Lethbridge, Alta., was first noticed at about 9 a.m.

Area rancher Mike Judd told Calgary’s CHQR news he was contacted by Shell officials around 10 a.m. and told to stay in house and shut the doors. The evacuation order came about 45 minutes later, he said. Judd said an emergency centre was set up at the Pincher Creek fire hall.  

Sheremata said the well serviced by the pipeline has been shut and the pipeline depressurized, ending the leak. The affected area was within a radius of five kilometres of the leak.

EUB staff are on site and an investigation into the leak is underway. The size of the pipeline or the concentration of hydrogen sulphide — the chemical that makes sour gas toxic — in the gas were not immediately available.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2007/11/19/4668902.html

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