On March 19th, the Suncor refinery in east Edmonton recorded a upset in their operating that resulted in plumes of smoke.
Yesterday, the Sherwood Park News reported that the Province of Alberta was awaiting further technical details from Suncor. The paper specifically reports that:
At the time of the first sample there was a 0.278 mg/m3 concentration of particulate matter at the refinery fence line and 1.00 mg/m3 at Petroleum Way/Steambank Avenue.
I am thinking I don’t understand the units or the units have been mis-reported. For example, the Conference Board of Canada has a site that compares particulate matter across Canada and between Canada and other countries. Average numbers reported are typically 15 to 30 microgram per cubic metre. The highest number above is 278 microgram per cubic metre. Am I right in this?
The Edmonton Journal reported on this on March 20th. There are a couple interesting pieces in that report.
It notes that a Suncor spokesperson identified that there were no exceedences of provincial air quality limits reported. A future post on this — I wonder what parameters are measured and whether they are reliable indicators for this kind of incident.
Chris Severinson-Baker from the Pembina Institute suggested people in Sherwood Park should have questions about this and noted that the monitors likely would not have measured the hydrocarbons that were emitted.
How do we access information to determine whether we should be concerned or not? Could we have more open data concerning emissions? Do we even have the capacity to determine emissions from such a process upset?