This page summarizes recommendations made to improve air quality and reduce offensive odours in Fort McKay. The status and lead agency for each recommendation are indicated below.
Recommendation 3: Share oil sands operators’ emergency response plans (ERPs)—or relevant sections—with the community of Fort McKay through a regulatory mechanism.
Industry has provided the relevant information from ERPs to the Fort McKay community. Information was shared without the need of a regulatory mechanism. Completed in October 2017
Recommendation 4: Develop an odour response protocol that is specific to the Fort McKay community and consistent with the odour management policy of the Government of Alberta.
Recommendation 5: Develop a checklist of operating conditions that an operator is to complete when an odour complaint is received by the AER and the operator is contacted by the AER.
The pilot project to develop odour response protocols (recommendation 4) and an operator checklist (recommendation 5) are complete. Data and lessons learned have been shared with the recommendation 9 subcommittee to help identify the source of emissions. There is now a consistent process being followed by the AER to investigate odour and air quality complaints made by Fort McKay with respect to oil sands operations, which includes a letter provided to the complainant that outlines any findings. Completed in November 2018.
Recommendation 7: Provide all parties with access to real-time air-monitoring data collected by Environment and Climate Change Canada in the Fort McKay community.
Air quality data from the Oski-ôtin research station are now on the Government of Canada open data portal. Data are available at weekly intervals, typically one week after the data have been collected. Since this information is publicly available, a data-sharing agreement was not required. Completed in September 2017
Lead: Environment and Climate Change Canada
Recommendation 8: Clarify who is accountable for supporting the complaint response and notification when ambient air monitoring identifies ground-level concentration exceedances, and ensure that this is captured in the odour response protocol described in recommendation 4.
The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) has been confirmed as the agency responsible for reporting to stakeholders, the AER, and the Alberta Government ground-level concentrations that exceed the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAAQO). WBEA has been responsible for reporting exceedances in the past, but this has now been formalized in the airshed operational contract with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Completed in August 2017
Recommendation 17: Establish an air-quality task force to oversee implementation of the recommendations in the report.
The Fort McKay Air Quality and Odours Advisory Committee (AQOAC) was established in December 2016. The committee is chaired by the AER, Alberta Health, and the Fort McKay First Nation and Métis community, and includes representatives from AEP, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and industry. Completed in December 2016
Recommendation 1: Monitor ambient air quality for acute concentrations of H2S and SO2 for emergency response in the Fort McKay community. Monitoring should be done by AEP and be funded by industry, and acute thresholds for H2S and SO2 concentrations should be approved by Alberta Health in discussion with Fort McKay.
Work on the recommendation is focused on strengthening the Fort McKay acute response triggers (FMART) process by identifying clear roles of each stakeholder, examining the addition of other parameters for inclusion in FMART, and building up the integrated emergency response plan process for stakeholders.
Lead: AEP and Alberta Health
Recommendation 2: Provide policy guidance on the appropriateness of odour thresholds for emergency response purposes in the Fort McKay community.
Alberta Health continues to compile feedback from the second draft of the jurisdictional review. The work is expected to be completed in fall 2019.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Recommendation 9: Assess fixed- and fugitive-emission sources, focusing on the parameters in the air quality focal parameter list (section 6.6.4 of the report) and on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in order to develop a roadmap for a systematic process for examining the dominant emission sources of the parameters in the focal parameter list.
Work continues on assessing and characterizing emissions from stacks and froth treatment tailings. A workshop helped to identify knowledge gaps and prioritize research areas for emissions from tailing ponds.
An assessment report has been drafted about how flares contribute to odour.
Lead: AER and Industry
Recommendation 12: Review reporting requirements for oil sands EPEA approvals with respect to air emissions in order to improve the consistency of monthly and annual reporting, units of measurements, and quality assurance and quality control; to include additional parameters with AAAQOs; and to consider transparency and public access to the industry reports.
The AER has set out steps to improve consistency among approvals for different operators. Approvals now contain similar reporting requirements, including characterizing and quantifying volatile organic compounds and reduced sulphur compounds. Operators must also follow the sampling and reporting requirements of the new Air Monitoring Directive (AMD). Transparency and public access to reported data are required under the new AMD.
The committee determined that the addition of other substances to the AAAQOs would be better addressed through other recommendations.
Recommendation 13: Assess the health implications on the Fort McKay community based on the ambient monitoring results, specifically the parameters in the air quality and odorant focal parameter lists (section 6.6.4 of the report) that were in concentrations greater than standards, limits, objectives, and thresholds. The assessment must consider limitations in the data, how applicable the thresholds are to human health, and what it means to the community when parameters are exceeded.
In response to a request for proposal (RFP), an assessment proposal was received in June 2019 and reviewed by Alberta Health, Fort McKay First Nation, and Fort McKay Métis. Comments were provided to the submitter of the proposal in August 2019. Fort McKay First Nation and Fort McKay Métis continue to review this proposal and further discussions are expected to occur with Alberta Health and the proposal submitter.
Funding for the work outlined in the RFP continues to be included in Alberta Health’s budget. A formal subcommittee to support the work will be created, with members coming from the FMAQO Advisory Committee and other organizations (e.g., Alberta Health Services, Health Canada).
Lead: Alberta Health, Fort McKay First Nation, & Fort McKay Métis
Recommendation 14: Establish an integrated, consistent approach to air quality monitoring from source (industry emissions) to fenceline (Mildred Lake – AMS02, Mannix – AMS05, Lower Camp – AMS11) to ambient monitoring stations (AMS01 and Oski-ôtin). Changes to monitoring should consider contaminants on the air quality focal parameter list (section 6.6.4 of the report). Consider polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in future monitoring plans.
Recommendation 15: Improve the consistency in monitoring H2S and total reduced sulphur, including examining individual sulphur compounds under the oil sands’ ambient-air-monitoring network.
The air monitoring approved by the AQOAC for recommendations 14 and 15 will be included in the network optimization report developed for the Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) Program, as directed by the OSM Science and Indigenous Knowledge Integration Committee (SIKIC). The network optimization report will be discussed by SIKIC in fall 2019. Funding approval of the air monitoring associated with recommendations 14 and 15 is pending SIKIC review.
Recommendation 16: Develop and apply ambient air quality policy for parameters that do not have AAAQOs in the areas of odour, ecology, and human health.
This requirement will be implemented in two phases. Phase one includes two studies that are currently underway at the University of Calgary. These studies will provide the scientific evidence needed to support the development of AAAQOs in the areas of odour, ecology, and human health. The deadline for the study deliverables is the end of October 2019. Phase two will be the development of air quality policy.
Lead: Government of Alberta
The following recommendations are pending because work to implement them is dependent on the implementation of other recommendations.
Recommendation 6: Provide policy guidance on the use and application of odour thresholds in the Fort McKay community, and clarify how the AER uses environmental protection orders under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) to address offensive odours.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Recommendation 10: Conduct a targeted examination of emissions control based on the findings from recommendation 9, and implement the controls through a multiyear continuous improvement program.
Recommendation 11: Consider odours generated by project activities when modelling air dispersion for EPEA applications and environmental impact assessments, and review the Air Quality Model Guideline to improve the consistency, among operators, of air dispersion modelling for odours.
Lead: Government of Alberta
Status of Recommendations