February 2, 2004

Committee review commends EUB's work on PSSG recommendations

A report to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) from the provincial advisory committee on Public Safety and Sour Gas (PSSG) concludes that "implementation work undertaken is showing positive results on many fronts, and that the spirit of true public consultation is demonstrated by the EUB's commitment to implementing the PSSG recommendation package." In its Evaluation of EUB's Implementation Progress to October 2003, the committee reviews and comments on the EUB's progress over the past year in addressing 87 recommendations which it presented to the Board in 2000. These recommendations were designed to improve the regulatory system for sour gas as it relates to public health and safety in Alberta.

The EUB has put an extensive implementation process in place, which includes regular reporting to the committee and to the public on its progress. In consultation with affected stakeholders, work has been completed on 26 recommendations and the Board is continuing work on 58 more. It intends to begin dealing with the three remaining recommendations before April 2004.

The committee's report commends the Board and its implementation staff for their increased focus on the intent of each of the recommendations. It advises frequent checking of benchmarks in implementation progress in order to avoid becoming sidetracked in details and losing sight of a recommendation's core purpose.

The review also notes an increasingly integrated approach in managing the implementation of the remaining recommendations, although there is a risk of work duplication and multiple demands on those involved. The committee urges continued work toward co-ordinating efforts so as to minimize these risks. It adds that it would also like to see the technical rationale behind the work on and results of key technical projects. This, it notes, is or particular concern in the health and dispersion modeling areas, where the technical output and results are important to the timing of many remaining recommendations.

The committee's report also offers a number of comments in relation to recommendations in specific areas such as health effects and sour gas research, sour gas development planning and approval, sour gas operations and emergency preparedness.

Raw natural gas, known as sour gas, contains hydrogen sulfide which can be toxic to humans and animals. About 30% of the raw natural gas produced in Alberta each year is sour.

The ten-page report may be viewed on the EUB Web site, www.eub.gov.ab.ca. More information is also available from Marilyn Craig, public safety implementation team leader, 403/297-3194.

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