Protecting Air Quality
Our Clearwater Project will ensure the maintenance of air quality for the benefit of local residents and other stakeholders. The project’s reduced steam needs will significantly lower emissions of water vapour and carbon dioxide compared to similarly-sized conventional SAGD projects.
The project facility will include one steam boiler and one diluent fractionator/heater. AOS’s studies determining the content of air emissions that would be created during a continual 24-hour operation of the facility indicate that the project’s emissions will be well below allowable levels of Alberta Environment’s Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives.
The Clearwater Project’s design features to protect air quality are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Vapour Recovery Unit (VRU)
The VRU captures all the odorous vapour from vessels and the facility's on-load and off-load platform before they can escape into the atmosphere. In order to ensure that any remaining odour stays within the plant boundary, Clearwater has built-in redundancy through a second VRU that will take over if the first one shuts down or malfunctions. If both VRU systems are unable to function, the onload/offload platform will be shut down in an orderly manner.
The Clearwater Project includes a comprehensive air monitoring station between the plant site and the Saprae Creek community. The new Clearwater monitoring station will fill the current gap between existing stations AMS07 (Athabasca Valley) to the northwest and AMS14 (Anzac) south of Saprae Creek. All the station’s measurements will be made available through the WBEA website and on this website (click here). We are also installing a system of more than a dozen odour monitoring receptors at the highway, airport and Saprae Creek.
SAGD plants (as well as many other industrial facilities, power plants and large office buildings) typically show a large plume coming off chimneys when the weather gets colder. This plume is made up of water vapour, and it’s important to remember that water vapour is not pollution. Still, the plume is unsightly to some and can occasionally contribute to localized ground fog.
In order to cut down on the cloud that might otherwise form at the Clearwater Project, a vapour condenser will be installed inside the chimney. It will capture up to 85 percent of the water vapour that would normally be emitted. Even on the coldest days and with significant wind, there will not be a significant plume or fog cloud outside the plant site. The vapour condenser is expected to eliminate any vapour-induced clouds that could interfere with airport traffic or drift towards the Saprae Creek community.
Wind Monitoring Station
AOS will install a small wind monitoring station between the plant site and the Fort McMurray Regional Airport to confirm the predicted absence of fog around the airport and local residences.