Oilsands plant explosion near Fort McMurray leaves 1 dead, another critical
Person in critical condition flown to University of Alberta burn centre
CBC News, Jan 15, 2016
One person is dead and another is in critical condition in hospital after an explosion Friday afternoon at Alberta’s Nexen Long Lake facility, Wood Buffalo RCMP say.
The person in critical condition was flown by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo LifeFlight helicopter to the University of Alberta’s burn centre.
A coker exploded at the plant located near Fort McMurray around 4:30 p.m., said Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry.
A coker uses heat to convert bitumen into crude oil.
The Nexen facility is approximately 75 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, outside the hamlet of Anzac.
Brad Grainger, Wood Buffalo’s deputy fire chief, said his crew got the call from Nexen at 4:30 p.m. The department sent an ambulance and fire truck to the site and was put on standby.
Grainger called the fire typical of a coker explosion.
“Lots of debris and stuff around, and active fire, but it didn’t take long for the Nexen crews to get the fire under control and extinguished.”
Wood Buffalo RCMP say the investigation is in its early stages, but the explosion does not appear to be suspicious.
The Alberta Energy Regulator is on the scene investigating.
“Nexen notified the AER of an explosion on Jan. 15 in the afternoon,” said Carrie Rosa, spokeswoman for the regulator.
“They are in the process of shutting down their facility, which is expected to take about 12 hours.
“They have established an emergency response centre at the Long Lake facility, and the AER have dispatched staff to the site.”
In a news release, Nexen say its “emergency response plan has been activated, and response personnel, including first responders from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are on site.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm one fatality and a second person is at hospital. All other personnel are accounted for.”
Nexen said there is no immediate danger to neighbouring communities or personnel still at the site.