NCIA Hits the Road

While summer is typically the season for road trips, NCIA opted to beat the rush earlier this month, organizing a bus tour for its members and a number of senior government representatives from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP).

The collaborative adventure started at South Petroleum Plaza in Edmonton on June 8th when 17 people set off on a guided tour of Alberta’s Heartland complete with stops at some of the region’s signature industrial assets.

20160608_091448In just under an hour, the group reached their first destination of the day – the North West Redwater Partnership (NWRP) Refinery site in Sturgeon County.  Here, participants traded their mini-coach for a site bus which took them safely through the developing area. Throughout the ride, road trippers learned about various leading-edge environmental management initiatives that have been incorporated into Alberta’s newest stand-alone refinery.

“We have carefully selected and invested in technology and processes that allows capture of 1.2 Million tonnes of CO2 per year, and that minimize the use of fresh water and maximize process water recycling,” explains Doug Bertsch VP Regulatory & Stakeholder Affairs for the NWRP.  “Environmental sustainability and stewardship principles have underpinned this project from the outset and we are looking forward to setting an environmental gold standard that will inspire others around the world.”

Next on the list was a visit to another NCIA member company where environmental performance is paramount.

Located in Strathcona County, near Fort Saskatchewan, Shell Scotford is home to an Upgrader, Chemical plant, Refinery as well as a Cogeneration plant. The combined footprint of these impressive facilities and their surrounds is comparable in size to downtown Calgary.

20160608_103416Prior to refuelling with a networking lunch that  attracted additional industry representatives, the group had an opportunity to tour the Shell site and get up to speed with the company’s existing and planned environmental management initiatives in relation to air and water.

“Shell has made great strides with respect to enhanced measurement and monitoring, reduction of airborne pollutants and adoption of innovative environmental strategies,” says Alan Catalano, Environment Manager for Shell Scotford “Now that it is operational, we anticipate that our Quest carbon capture and storage project will reduce direct carbon dioxide emissions here at Scotford by up to 35 per cent, or one million tonnes each year.”

With a steady stream of facts, new information and much travelling time in between facilities, there were ample opportunities to learn more about the region and to engage in productive dialogue. NCIA provided an overview of its purpose, membership, significant upcoming projects and ongoing Regional Effects management approaches.

During the 6 hour round trip, participants also gained insight about Alberta’s remarkable landscape and the essential role of the facilities that call the region home.

“Unless you have physically travelled through the area, it is difficult to fully appreciate the value of the Heartland,” says Dr. Laurie Danielson, Executive Director NCIA.  “While the infrastructure investment and the facilities themselves are a sight to behold, the expansive land bordering these industrial resources is also an integral component of Alberta’s agriculture sector.”

Many NCIA members lease the fields adjacent to their operations to farmers for cattle grazing and crop production. “There is often a perception that the Heartland looks like a high density region of facilities side by side for endless kilometers. The reality is even though land ownership is largely industrial, there is much agricultural land in between the actual facilities.”

Over the years, NCIA members have made significant efforts to foster innovative partnerships with their neighbours and each other.  Be it water recycling or feedstock supply, companies are collaborating for success.

Throughout the tour, continued regional prosperity was emphasized.  NCIA raised specific challenges associated with current market conditions as well as the importance of alignment of policy expectations between Alberta and the Federal Government.

Recognizing the number of operating renewal applications slated for submission to the AEP in the future, NCIA also queried proactive measures that may help build capacity and strengthen relationships.

“We know that over the next two years, we will have nearly 20 industry requests that will require action,” explains Danielson.  “Our hope is that by working together, we can help ensure the process is both smooth and timely.  This recent trip with the AEP and our members certainly marks the importance of an exciting and collaborative road ahead.”

Heartland Industry Supports YMM Fires

In the wake of the Northern Alberta wild fires, communities from around the province have stepped up to lend support. Be it financial aid, material goods or donations of time, people have
been compelled to give generously and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“NCIA member companies have a long history of helping those in need,” says NCIA Executive Director, Dr. Laurie Danielson. “We recognize the privilege and responsibility of our work and we are invested in ensuring that our communities have the opportunities and resources necessary for success.”

Since the devastating events in early May, NCIA members have turned their attention to individuals and families whose lives have been forever changed. In fact, several member companies and their staff have collectively raised more than $1.73 million for the Red Cross.

“In addition to financial contributions, our members have joined volunteer efforts and are continuing to offer essential resources that will help speed recovery,” adds Danielson.

While food, clothing and shelter are generally top of this list during an emergency, there are various other elements that require attention. This is especially true in a unique region like Fort McMurray.

NCIA members not only have a wealth of industrial knowledge, they are well equipped with safety training and disaster management expertise. These skills have been extremely valuable.

“Our members have provided Emergency Response Teams, helped fly workers in and out of affected areas, and funded support programs and trauma counselling,” says Danielson.

“Probably most impressive however, is that this list is continuing to grow each day. We are all very committed to helping people overcome this disaster and to rebuilding this important part of Alberta”.

Heartland 101: Scientific Stations Monitor the Air You Breathe

Air quality is considered the most important topic to the local community, according to a 2015 Life in the Heartland survey. As such, residents are keen to know how the region’s air quality is monitored.

Heartland 101: Location-Based Wireless Public Alerting – Have Your Say

It’s technology that exists today and is used in many countries, but surprisingly not in Canada. It’s the Wireless Public Alerting Service (WPAS), and Canadians had an opportunity to support its implementation in a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) public consultation.

Heartland 101: Rail Transport in the Heartland

Rail lines have been transporting goods and people across Canada for over 130 years. Since the completion of the railway to the Pacific Ocean in 1885, rail has been a reliable means of transport. Currently, Canada’s railways move $282 billion worth of goods every year, making it one of the most important modes of transport for our economy.

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