November 5, 2007

Fertilizer producer fined $280K in connection with 2005 SO2 release

CALGARY, ALTA-Tiger Industries was fined $280,000 after pleading guilty to a charge under Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act in connection with a January 2005 release of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from its fertilizer plant in Calgary's Foothills Industrial Park. SO2, a colorless, toxic and corrosive gas, is produced during burning of sulfur-containing fuels such as coal and oil, as well as during metal smelting and other industrial processes. Emergency response (ER) personnel from both the city and Alberta Environment were called to deal with the incident, and several city ER personnel subsequently reported adverse health effects related to their exposure to the gas. One was treated in hospital and several others reported reduced lung function. A follow-up investigation determined the cause of the incident to be an unexpected chemical reaction during a production run of a sulfur-based fertilizer blend. The combination of un-degassed sulfur and an impurity in a copper micronutrient resulted in a chemical reaction that produced significant quantities of SO2. The plant's operating approval from Alberta Environment stipulated the use of degassed sulfur. Tiger Industries was charged with releasing a substance that causes or may cause a significant adverse effect. After pleading guilty, the company was given until February 29, 2008 to pay the fine. After the incident, the manufacturer implemented procedures to ensure that only degassed sulfur is used and that ingredients are tested for compatibility before each production run. The facility has since been sold.

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