Report says oilsands processing odours may cause health problems

PEACE RIVER — A new report says odours caused by oilsands processing in northwestern Alberta should be eliminated as much as possible because they could cause health problems.

PEACE RIVER — A new report says odours caused by oilsands processing in northwestern Alberta should be eliminated as much as possible because they could cause health problems.

The report released Monday from the Alberta Energy Regulator follows hearings into complaints from people near Peace River who say Baytex Energy Corp.’s operations are creating powerful gassy smells.

The report said steps must be taken to eliminate gas venting, reduce flaring and conserve all produced gas where feasible.

“The Panel’s main finding in this section is that odours from heavy oil operations in the Peace River area have the potential to cause some of the symptoms experienced by residents; therefore, these odours should be eliminated,” the report says.

“The Panel recommends that further study be conducted to examine linkages between odours and emissions and health effects.”

Some families have moved away because of the odour.

Others have reported severe headaches, dizziness, sinus congestion, muscle spasms, popping ears, memory loss, numbness, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, eye twitching and fatigue.

Calgary-based Baytex (TSX:BTE) uses an unusual method of heating bitumen in above-ground tanks to extract oil. Four other companies in the area use a similar process.

Andrew Loosely, a Baytex spokesman, said the company is reviewing the report but accepts its main findings.

Loosely said the company is moving to install equipment to capture emissions from the tanks.

“We are already doing or are committed to do everything that the panel has recommended,” he said. “We may have a challenge meeting the four-month time frame.”

Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace Canada spokesman, hailed the report’s findings. He said it reaffirms what people in the region have been saying for years.

“It is unfortunate that it takes this long for the government to finally listen,” Hudema said.

“The government should move quickly to fully implement these recommendations in the Peace River region and look at what else can be done to help.”

The report recommends that an air-quality monitoring program should be established in the area.

It also calls for stepped up enforcement of environmental standards.

Geologists have said the bitumen in the area is high in sulphur, a common component of smelly chemicals.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Dallas Stars' Mark Pysyk (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) compete for control of a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Vasilevskiy 3rd straight shutout as Lightning top Stars 2-0

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) grabs a loose puck as Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot (8) and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) battle for the rebound during first-period NHL hockey action Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

Hab down Sens 3-1 to snap 5-game winless streak; Ducharme earns 1st NHL coaching win

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2021, file photo, Creighton coach Greg McDermott watches the team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis. McDermott apologized publicly Tuesday, March 2, for using insensitive language in his postgame locker room talk with players and staff following a loss over the weekend. In a tweet, McDermott said he used a “terribly inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.” (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

Creighton coach McDermott apologizes for ‘plantation’ remark

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

WHL’s B.C. Division clubs cleared to play in Kamloops and Kelowna bubble environments

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women’s World Cup to next year

Sean Burke speaks at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Montreal Canadiens have made another change to their coaching staff, appointing Burke to take over as the director of goaltending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

Montreal Canadiens appoint Sean Burke as director of goaltending

The Toronto Arrows line up ahead of their Major League Rugby game in Toronto on April 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Toronto Arrows train under the bubble before heading south of the border

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson watches her shot against Team Ontario in the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., on February 28, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship

Most Read