2 workers killed in blast at oil and gas site in northern Alberta

The Tamarack Valley Energy logo. Tamarack Valley Energy / Global News

RCMP say two workers have died in an explosion at an oil and gas site in northern Alberta.

Officers and emergency crews were called at 2:12 p.m. on Saturday to the site near Slave Lake, about 250 kilometres north of Edmonton.

The deaths are being investigated by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.

A government official says no further information is being released at this time.

The site is operated by Calgary-based Tamarack Valley Energy.

Tamarack Valley Energy president and CEO Brian Schmidt told Global News the men were contractors who had been working at Marten Hills when the site belonged to Deltastream.

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When Tamarack acquired the lease in October, the company kept their contracts going.

Schmidt said the men were doing welding work on an oil and gas well site, building facilities when an explosion occurred and both men died.

He said an ambulance, RCMP, the provincial government and the Alberta Energy regulator were all notified after the blast and the company enacted emergency procedures and isolated the site.

Schmidt said the company is cooperating with the OHS investigation and has assembled a team of their own to conduct an internal investigation.

The company is offering support to the victims’ families, Schmidt said.

“We just feel so badly for all the families going through this grief. I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now,” he said. “It’s gut-wrenching. I’ve been in this business a long time. It’s just devastating.”

Schmidt said all work at the site has been shut down until the OHS investigation is complete.

“Tamarack Valley has an excellent safety track record. We are deeply saddened by this event and are taking this very seriously.”

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On Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for the ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development, the department that oversees OHS, said it does not issue news releases for workplace incidents or investigations and that OHS releases few details on active investigations so that they are not compromised.

However, the province was able to say that two stop-work orders were issued recently in connection to the explosion at the Tamarack Valley Energy site.

“One is related to ensuring that all parts of a fall-protection system are appropriate for the work before work can resume. The other order is related to ensuring work done on or near potential sources of ignition or explosion can be done safely before it is allowed to resume.”

OHS also issued a compliance order to Tamarack Valley Energy to have a plan to ensure no person is exposed to hazards on the site.

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with files from Global News.

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