Reports say one dead, one injured in explosion at oilsands plant

The plant is 10 minutes south of a small community called Anzac.

ANZAC, Alta. — One person was killed and one critically injured Friday afternoon in an explosion at an oilsands plant near Fort McMurray, Alta.

The company issued a news release saying there is no immediate danger to the neighbouring community or to personnel still on site.

“Our emergency response plan has been activated and response personnel, including first responders from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are on site,” the company said.

“The affected facility has been shut down and we are stabilizing the scene.”

RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry said few details were known about what had happened, but he said Mounties received the first call alerting them to the emergency at 4:43 p.m.

Landry could not say if the two people were workers at the Nexen Long Lake plant, but he said one was already dead when they arrived and the other was sent to hospital in nearby Fort McMurray.

“We don’t have those details yet,” he said. “As the investigation is in its infancy, although we do hope to have more details as the evening progresses.”

The Alberta Energy Regulator has dispatched staff to the site.

“This afternoon Nexen notified the AER of an explosion,” said spokeswoman Carrie Rosa. “They’re in the process of shutting down the facility and have established an emergency response centre.”

The plant is 10 minutes south of a small community called Anzac.

Calgary-based Nexen Energy ULC, acquired by China’s state-owned CNOOC Ltd. more than two years ago, laid off about 60 employees at the plant in November.

The company said at the time the job cuts would improve the plant’s technical and operational performance.

The Long Lake plant was also the scene of a pipeline rupture that leaked five million litres of a mixture of bitumen, produced water and sand into muskeg last summer.

The company shut down the Long Lake plant while it complied with a pipeline suspension order from the AER, which had determined Nexen was not complying with pipeline maintenance and monitoring regulations.

The suspension order was lifted in September and the plant returned to full operations.

Long Lake is designed to produce up to 72,000 barrels of bitumen per day.


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