Workers called back as explosion at Syncrude plant remains under investigation

Posted March 16, 2017

There was a big plume of black smoke at the Mildred Lake upgrader complex Tuesday afternoon but the smoke was dissipating, said Will Gibson, a Syncrude Canada spokesman. How much leaked and how the leak started is still unknown to investigators.

The "vast majority" of workers at Syncrude's oil sands plant in northern Alberta had returned to work on Wednesday after a fire the previous day, according to a company spokesman who declined to say whether production at the facility had been affected.

Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services said emergency medical staff also confirmed that it transported one person from the scene in serious but stable condition from the Syncrude plant to hospital.

An explosion and fire were reported at the facility north of Fort McMurray just after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, with the Alberta Energy Regulator looking into what happened. Fort McMurray is the largest community in Wood Buffalo.

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The air quality in Fort McKay is improving after a fire at Syncrude pushed toxic, said Fort McKay First Nation spokesperson Rose Mueller.

"The safety of the people at the site is Syncrude's top priority right now", said Gibson. "Syncrude will be thoroughly investigating this incident and will be cooperating with other agencies that will be investigating it". "Once it is safe to proceed, Syncrude will conduct a damage assessments and repairs".

The site was also closed past year when giant forest fires ravaged the entire Fort McMurray area, forcing the evacuation of 100,000 people and numerous oil facilities. Anyone with chronic lung conditions was warned to have sufficient medication for at least two days.

An explosion rocked the Mildred Lake facility around 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday, prompting an evacuation, employees at the site at the time said.