Miscommunication Caused Closing of Highway 40

Lynsey Kitching
 
Recently the Mounties closed a highway in northwest Alberta because of a leak of potentially deadly sour gas. Police say a 100 kilometre stretch of Highway 40 was closed south of the communities of Grande Prairie and north of Grande Cache.
 
The forested area is remote and sparsely populated.
 
An update from the Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB) of Alberta explains, it was a release of liquid, not a release of gases.
 
A spokesperson for the ERCB says, “There was actually no gas release. It was a release of liquids. There were some odors associated with the liquids release, some sour content in liquids, but there was not actually a sour gas release,”
 
He continues, “There was some miscommunication in the early stages, not exactly sure where it occurred but as a result the highway was closed. We did not request that. Once we were contacted, we advised there was no need to have the highway closed.”
 
The liquid leak was from a well that was undergoing completion operations.
 
It has now been controlled.
 
“We don’t see it a lot. It does happen occasionally, but it is not a regular occurrence. We publish numbers annually on incidents,” explains the spokesperson for ERBC.
 
The ERBC dispatched an inspector to the site and one of its air monitoring units to the site immediately.
 
There was never any risk to public health or safety.
 
“We don’t know if any environmental impacts might have occurred. The Environment and Sustainable Resource Development will be reviewing that. We weren’t involved in the early communications, so it’s hard to say where the breakdown occurred.”