Skip to content

Spectra Energy confirms H2S leak at Pine River Gas Plant

No one was injured following a leak of an unknown amount of deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas at Spectra Energy's Pine River Gas plant, about 45 kilometres west of Chetwynd. - See more at: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.
No one was injured following a leak of an unknown amount of deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas at Spectra Energy's Pine River Gas plant, about 45 kilometres west of Chetwynd. - See more at: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/spectra-energy-confirms-h2s-leak-at-pine-river-gas-plant-1.2120497#sthash.wyGnb7Pk.dpuf

No one was injured following a leak of an unkown amount of deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas at Spectra Energy's Pine River Gas Plant, about 45 kilometres west of Chetwynd.

The company confirmed the accidental release happened Nov. 17 at about 10:10 a.m. About 40 employees were on site at the time.

"The release occurred during some maintenance work that was being undertaken at the plant," Jesse Semko, a spokesperson with the company told the Alaska Highway News.

It is not known whether the release was directly tied to the maintenance work.

"We don't actually know if it was related to the incident and we won't know that until the investigation is completed," Semko said.

According to Spectra, something occured that morning that caused an incinerator stack to shut down, releasing H2S. This triggered an alarm at the plant and in the nearby community of Hasler, a tiny hamlet along Highway 97 south.

"As part of standard procedure, whenever anything is released there is an emergency response plan that kicks into place," Semko added. "We immediately instructed all employees to move to a safe location on site and notified the surrounding community."

Semko said the company's first concern is for the safety their employees, the surrounding community and the protection of the environment.

Ambient air monitors on site and in the vicinity of the plant detected no air quality issues.

Preliminary data from the on site air monitor reports a small spike in H2S levels of between 1.6 and 1.7 parts per billion (PPB) on the day and time of the release.

Anything under 10 PPB is not considered harmful.

The data shows a larger, unexplained spike in H2S that occurred on Nov. 20 between 6 and 11 a.m. that Spectra Energy said it will look into. This second spike was at around 3 PPB, also well below the 10 PPB threshold.

"We're currently undertaking an investigation to determine the exact quantity of H2S that was released," Semko said of the Nov. 17 event. He was not sure when that investigation would be complete.

Officials with the District of Chetwynd indicated they had reached out to Spectra Energy to "bring us up to speed." Although the incident occurred last week, Chetwynd was only imformed Nov. 26. Semkos said because the town is further awa, residents in the immediate area were notified first.

H2S is a colourless gas that smells like rotten eggs. In large amounts, H2S will quickly block your sense of smell, which is why WorkSafe BC warns odour should never be used to determine H2S levels.

The gas can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Inhalation of H2S in large amounts can lead to death.

"The response plan and everything that occurred was just part of a system that we have in place to make sure that our employees are safe when an incident happens," Semko said. "That's critical for us in all of our operations."


dcreporter@dcdn.ca

graph
Read outs from an ambient air monitor on site at Spectra Energy's Pine River Gas Plant show a small increase in H2S levels the day of the event, and a larger unexplained release on Nov. 20. The Ministry of Environment notes this data is preliminary and is subject to change during the review process. - Ministry of Environment