April 15, 2019 12:28 pm
Updated: April 15, 2019 8:35 pm

Fire prompts emergency response, evacuation at Shell’s Scotford Upgrader northeast of Edmonton

All workers are safe after fire broke out at the Shell Scotford Upgrader Monday morning. Sarah Kraus has more from the scene.

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Fire crews were on scene responding to a blaze at Shell’s Scotford Upgrader northeast of Edmonton for several hours Monday.

The site assembly alarm went off at the facility at 8:45 a.m., Shell Canada media manager Tara Lemay said in an email.

“Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan Emergency Services and our own emergency services have all responded to this,” said Stephen Velthuizen, with Shell Scotford’s external relations.

At least six fire trucks were seen at the facility just before 11 a.m. Two school buses full with what appeared to be employees were also seen leaving the site.

Personnel are being relocated from the area as a safety precaution, Lemay said. The Shell Canada facility is located northeast of Fort Saskatchewan.

Watch below: A fire broke out at the Shell Scotford Upgrader at around 8:45 am. on Monday, April 15, 2019.

“What we tried to do is first account for everybody as best we can and then move people away from the impacted area just in case something grows in terms of the incident so that we can keep everyone safe,” Velthuizen said.

The cause of the fire has not been confirmed but a source told Global News it was a problem with a furnace. That person said no injuries had been reported.

“Everyone is accounted for and, at this point, no injuries have been reported,” Velthuizen added.

The fire was declared out by 12:13 p.m.

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Northwest Region Community Awareness Emergency Response said there’s no need for neighbours to take action at this time. Any nearby residents with immediate concerns can call (780) 992-3600. Shell has also posted an update on the community update line (1-866-653-9959).

“We deployed air monitoring and we have constant air monitors as well,” Velthuizen said. “We have systems that can model out exactly what the potential impact might be. In this case, we watch is very close. It was deemed there was no impact to them. Nonetheless, we contacted all of our neighbours with a call-out system just to keep them apprised of the incident.”

Road blocks, set up at the entrances to the Shell Scotford site and on Township Road 560A at Range Road 214 and Range Road 220 at Township Road 554, were removed at around 3 p.m. and employees were given the all-clear to return to work.

“Our priority right now [is to] make sure the fire is out so that we can ensure everyone is safe — people working here, people in the community — and after that, we’ll assess and take the next steps,” Velthuizen said.

In a statement shared on its social media platforms, Shell said it has contacted the Alberta Energy Regulator “and all relevant responders as needed at this time.”

Occupational Health and Safety said it was notified about an explosion/fire at the upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan and is investigating.

According to Shell Scotford’s website, the facility opened in 1984 with the refinery and chemicals plant. It expanded in 2011 with the upgrader, and the Quest CCS facility was added in 2015. It says Shell Scotford employs about 1,300 people. Contractors also provide both routine operations support and major maintenance activities. The number of contractors on site varies depending on the type of work being done.

The upgrader converts bitumen into a synthetic crude oil that can then be used by refineries.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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