Protesters hope to stop upgrader project

FORT SASKATCHEWAN — Dozens of people hoping to stop a new bitumen upgrader from going forward have shown up to a public hearing at a Fort Saskatchewan hotel.

FORT SASKATCHEWAN — Dozens of people hoping to stop a new bitumen upgrader from going forward have shown up to a public hearing at a Fort Saskatchewan hotel.

The residents say they’re doing what they can to stop French oil giant Total from building an upgrader about 15 minutes northeast of Fort Saskatchewan, which is just northeast of Edmonton.

A handful of Greenpeace demonstrators also showed up Tuesday to support the residents, who are concerned about the potential for environmental and health risks associated with more development.

Wayne Groot, whose wheat crop is across the river from the existing Shell Scottford upgraders, says his life is in turmoil because Total wants to build its upgrader on the parcel of land next to Shell’s.

However, he and others are complaining that the Energy Resources Conservation Board is refusing to grant them the right to speak at the hearing.

Board spokesman Darin Barter says people who live too far away from the project “may not be impacted by the project directly.”

Total says it has conducted extensive health and environmental studies on predicted air and water emissions

“The health effects from this upgrader are negligible,” says Total spokesman Gary Houston.