Message from the Executive Director

While we are only two months into 2014, I can tell it is going to be another great year for NCIA and our members.

This year we will continue to build on achievements to date as we work to ensure that our collective voice and commitment to sustainable growth and environmental stewardship in our unique region is heard.

In particular, NCIA will be watching the Municipal Government Act (MGA) review closely and providing feedback as appropriate.  The MGA review focuses on important issues that will impact communities across Alberta such as:

  • planning and development,
  • governance and administration, and
  • assessment and taxation.

Our NCIA Executive Committee has already convened to discuss the review and early thoughts on various items.  Some of the discussion points from this meeting were shared via email in late January.   My apologies again for the small feedback window.  This process is indeed progressing quite rapidly and I think it is clear that our organization has a significant role to play.

NCIA appreciates the impact this review may have on our region and we have been proactively gathering information as well as reaching out to other agencies including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and a Calgary based Business Alliance group.  Earlier this month, I also attended two public consultation sessions along with Dow’s contracted tax expert.  It is our intention to continue to take part in any upcoming consultations and to share information as it becomes available.

In other news, NCIA is excited to see that Our Region Our Future is once again making headway.  As committee members, we are committed to working with all stakeholders to manage our growth and potential cumulative effects with regard to air, water and land capacity.  Together we will progress regional solutions for environmental protection.

Clearly, there is much to do in the coming months and as always; we look forward to partnering with our neighbours, government representatives and industry stakeholders to achieve great results. 2014 is certainly looking bright for NCIA.

Cheers,

Laurie

Heartland 101: Monitoring Plan to better Understand Regional Air Quality

Fort Air Partnership has announced plans to change the way air quality will be monitored within Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and surrounding areas. FAP Executive Director Nadine Blaney said the changes will result in a better understanding of the impact of all emission sources on air quality, not just those that are regulated.

“Our move to a regional air monitoring network offers stakeholders more benefits and responds to community, government and industry needs,” said Blaney. She explained that regional air monitoring takes into consideration not only regulated industrial emissions, but also non-regulated industrial sources, as well as household, transportation, agricultural and natural sources.

“It’s important that the data we collect and provide is data people need now and in the future to make good air quality management decisions.” The new plan aligns with Alberta and Canada’s cumulative effects management programs.

In addition to regional air monitoring, the plan calls for more monitoring where people live and tracking the impact of emerging local issues like new oil and gas wells, and regional industrial and residential development. Over the next several years, FAP plans to add two continuous monitoring stations; relocate two others; increase sampling of Volatile Organic Compounds around oil and gas wells and other locations; eliminate monitoring that is redundant; and upgrade technologies.

A few changes have already been put in place, such as upgrading network data collection software but full implementation of the plan will depend on getting funding support from the provincial government and other sources, noted Blaney.

A spinoff benefit of system upgrading is development of a live to website stream of raw data from FAP’s continuous monitoring stations. This allows anyone to check out air quality readings at any time. People can search by station, or by substance, and get hour-by-hour current or historic raw data in an easy-to-understand format. FAP hopes to have the new service launched by early March.

For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com

FAP Focuses on the Future

As detailed above, there are exciting developments in the works with regard to our regional air quality management.  To support these changes, the Fort Air Partnership has developed a short animated video and in the next two months, FAP representatives will be presenting information to local councils throughout the region.  Please visit fortair.org for more information.

Welcome New Members!

Green Feature: Agrium

For over three decades, Mike Fedunec has seen many changes in terms of the way industry views its impact on the environment and how to manage that.  As Manager of Environment, Health, Safety and Security, Mike truly has his finger on the pulse of environmental stewardship at Agrium. “I would say industry is progressing on all fronts,” said Mike. “We are actively involved in reducing air emissions and over the last number of years have also made significant gains in reducing water emissions as well.”

With regards to environmental monitoring, industry has moved to a combined regional approach and away from individual sites conducting their own monitoring. And, in conjunction, management has also transitioned to a more joint regional approach with regulators and other key stakeholders working together. “For instance, industry is actively engaged in ambient air monitoring through the Fort Air Partnership (FAP),” said Mike. “ And, furthermore, industry has been involved in regional groundwater monitoring and water quality in the North Saskatchewan river.” Similarly, companies have demonstrated leadership, through NCIA, in noise management and the Regional Noise Management Plan (RNMP).  This work also showcases an area where companies are excelling overall—that being industry’s approach to not only looking at issues from a regional perspective but also consulting and communicating with stakeholders.

Industry is also adopting new technologies for environmental monitoring and management, when available and where there is an opportunity to install and implement.  “For example, the noise management program specifies that new equipment will be low noise producing,” noted Mike.  And Agrium is on the forefront of this. “Our company will install new technology to reduce emissions when the opportunity arises,” said Mike. He cites the replacement of burners in the big reformer furnace back in 2008 at Agrium’s Fort Saskatchewan site. Agrium replaced them with Low NOx burners, which resulted in a reduction of oxides of nitrogen emissions by 50 per cent from this source. At the Redwater site, Mike related how a new improved catalyst was installed in one of the sulphuric acid plants and reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by 35 per cent.

One more example, for Mike, of Agrium’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship involves the company installing a “High Pressure Condensate Stripper” in the ammonia plant at its Fort Saskatchewan facility. This move served to eliminate ammonia and methanol emissions.  “At the time, the methanol emissions were 10 per cent of the total reported in Canada,” recounted Mike.  In addition, the Fort Saskatchewan site also connected the effluent discharge to the Capital Region Wastewater Treatment Plant, making it a “zero discharge” facility. All process and storm water is collected and treated by the Capital Region before it’s returned to the river.  Agrium’s Redwater facility also sends all of its storm water to the Capital Region.  Additionally, the Redwater facility is working with a third party to collect and inject carbon dioxide emissions into the carbon dioxide pipeline for distribution and enhanced oil recovery.

Mike’s vision for the Heartland is for related industries to develop so that companies can take advantage of synergies and succeed without having any adverse impact on the environment. “I think that all industry in our region takes their commitment to the environment very seriously,” Mike reflected. “None of us would be able to continue being in business if we didn’t continue to look at ways to mitigate our effect on the environment.”  Agrium is one such company that is dedicated to participating fully with the regional initiatives that have been created, and continues to strive even further at minimizing the environmental impacts of its operations.

Timely Tweets

Although we were treated to some unseasonal temperatures in January, this month’s colder weather has served as a reminder that spring is still a fair way off.  These chilly days however haven’t deterred our NCIA birds who have been busy tweeting away @NCIA_Alberta.

We think social media is a great way to share information and spread key messages.  If you haven’t already checked out our Twitter feed please do.  We’d love to connect and learn more about your news and upcoming events.