Monday, March 3, 2014

Chemical plant odors worries residents

A chemical leak was to blame for the strong
odors affecting nearby citizens.
Residents living near the Imperial Oil refinery and chemical plant are wondering why a hydrocarbon gas leak sent workers to safe havens within the plant while citizens were left to go about their routines despite a strong odor wafting through much of the southwestern Ontario city.

Warning sirens went off at the Imperial site after a vapor release began at 3 p.m. Friday, caused by a release of “light hydrocarbons,” according to a company news release.

The leak came from a small pipe in the site’s chemical plant.

Imperial’s air monitoring showed no measurable levels of hydrocarbon or hydrogen sulfide, the release said.

A strong odor wafted over the city, prompting a rash of 911 phone calls, said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. Calls were also fielded by a local radio station.

The leak was contained immediately and did not go off-site, according to Sarnia police news release, and Imperial Oil staff ensured that the odor smelled by neighbors was in no way toxic or harmful.

The all-clear was given at 8:30 p.m. Friday, according to the company.

Company officials should have warned the city that the leak would have an effect on people outside the site, the mayor said Saturday.

Imperial has not specified what the leaked material was or how much of it leaked. An investigation is underway, said a spokesman, but he did not know how long that might take.

Regulatory authorities, including the provincial Environment Ministry, have been notified.

Source: The Star

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