About the Study

The study examined 172 air quality and odour complaints that are related to local oil sands mining operations and that were received by the AER from the Fort McKay community over a five-year period. It also looked at industry performance monitoring data and regulatory requirements, ambient air quality monitoring data, and air quality and odour thresholds.

The study found the following:

  • In most cases, oil sands facilities were operating under normal conditions and were following the AER’s requirements during the time of the complaints.
  • There is a link between emissions from oil sands operations in the area and air quality and odours in Fort McKay.
  • The air in Fort McKay does at times contain emissions that exceed odour and health thresholds.
  • Response protocols for odour and air-quality complaints must be improved.
  • More work is needed to better understand the connection between emissions and oil sands operators and how exposure to emissions that exceed thresholds may impact health.

As a result of these findings, 17 recommendations were made to help improve air quality and odours. The recommendations are outlined in the report, Fort McKay Recurrent Human Health Complaints Technical Synthesis, and are focused on the following:

  • Emergency response related to air quality exceedances
  • The AER’s odour-complaint response protocols
  • Identifying, assessing, and managing emissions from oil sands operations
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Conducting a human health assessment based on ambient air quality data

While the work done to assess complaints from the Fort McKay community and to provide recommendations to help improve air quality and odours is a step in the right direction, it’s only the beginning of our journey to resolve these concerns. There is significant work ahead of us, and it will take time to implement the recommendations. However, all parties involved remain committed to working together to make the necessary changes to address air-quality and odour concerns in Fort McKay.