Better air quality factor at fire-threatened oilsands site

Construction is resuming after one of the largest forest fires in Alberta’s recent history forced a one-day work stoppage at a major northern oilsands project.

FORT MCMURRAY — Construction is resuming after one of the largest forest fires in Alberta’s recent history forced a one-day work stoppage at a major northern oilsands project.

Work at Imperial Oil’s (TSX:IMO) Kearl (KURHL) project north of Fort McMurray was halted Monday because of smoke and other problems associated with the 2,800-square-kilometre blaze that’s about eight kilometres northwest of the site.

Pius Rolheiser (PYE’-uhs ROHL’-hye-zuhr), a spokesman for Imperial, says a decision was made Monday night in conjunction with the major contractors to have 3,500 tradespeople head back to their jobs.

Rolheiser says the decision was based on the results of ongoing air quality monitoring, which show smoke levels had fallen within provincial occupational health and safety guidelines.

Three workers went to the construction site’s medical facility on Monday, but Rolheiser says details are not available on what health concerns they may have had.

He says an evacuation plan for Kearl is in place and could be carried out in a matter of hours, should the fire pose a serious threat to the site.