Left out of the loop

Residents near a sour gas pipeline under construction are concerned that they knew nothing of the project.

Residents near a sour gas pipeline under construction are concerned that they knew nothing of the project.

“I guess our biggest concern was being left out of the loop,” said Tony Stutter, who lives with his wife Lois less than a kilometre from the Keyera pipeline in Leedale, about 20 km southwest of Rimbey. “Nobody’s ever been here to discuss that with us.”

The first notice they had that a pipeline was going in was when crews began digging several weeks ago.

“As we watched it being built, we were somewhat curious.”

It was not until Bill Kinley, of the landowner group UPTAG, spoke to them that they realized it would be carrying hydrogen sulphide, a potentially lethal gas.

Stutter believes residents of the little hamlet of Leedale, 20 km southwest of Rimbey, should have been better informed.

Kinley said residents have a right to be concerned. A rupture in the pipeline, given the prevailing northwesterly winds, could be devastating for Rimbey and area, he said.

He questions the effectiveness of the company’s notification process when residents he spoke to were unaware that the pipeline could carry sour gas.

“I don’t think the majority of the people are aware of it,” said Kinley, adding it was news to the Leedale Hutterite Colony. The colony declined to comment.

Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board says at concentrations over 750 parts per million, sour gas can cause death within minutes.

Calgary-based Keyera says it posted ads notifying the public of the proposed pipeline and the fact it would transport natural gas with up to 1,000 parts per million of hydrogen sulphide in newspapers in Rimbey, Ponoka and Edmonton in September 2010. The project was officially announced to the media last December and in January, a presentation on the pipeline was given to the Medicine River Watershed Society’s open house in Leslieville.

The 45-km, 30-cm pipeline will run from the Leedale area to the Rimbey gas plant to the east. It will carry natural gas liquids, including ethane, butane, propane and condensate. The pipeline is licensed to carry up to 0.1 per cent of sour gas.

Additional public notifications on Keyera’s Rimbey gas gathering system emergency response plan with contact information appeared in Rimbey and Eckville newspapers in February.

Residents were notified as required by the Energy Resources Conservation Board. “As required by the ERCB Directive 56, these stakeholders consented to the pipeline through the formal non-objection process,” says a statement from Keyera spokeswoman Sarha Wilson.

All residences within the 200-metre emergency plan area and local authorities were also contacted.

“All Keyera facilities have a long history of safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operations,” says Wilson. The company will discuss its plans with any of those interested in the project.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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