For years, Fort McKay First Nation has voiced concerns about air quality and odours from oil sands operations and questioned whether current monitoring, response protocols, and thresholds are adequate.
The study examined 172 complaints received by the AER from the Fort McKay community over a five-year period and confirmed the link between emissions from oil sands operations in the area and air quality and odours in Fort McKay. It found that the air in Fort McKay does at times contain emissions that exceed odour and health thresholds, and that response protocols for odour and air quality complaints must be improved. It also recognized that 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.
The AER and Alberta Health recommendations include implementing better air quality monitoring, better understanding emission sources, and further investigating the potential long-term health impacts of emissions.
A number of organizations will be responsible for addressing each of the recommendations, and a taskforce involving the AER, Government of Alberta, Fort McKay, industry, and other partners will be established to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.