Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) has been fined $500,000 for two unrelated gas releases in 2010 and 2012 at the Horizon oil sands facility in Alberta.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) said that CNR received a $350,000 penalty for failing to immediately report a May 2010 gas release.

According to AEP, a sulfur recovery unit at the Horizon plant failed, allowing some hydrogen sulfide to escape at the ground level and through a flare stack.

The company reported the incident on June 3, 2010, contravening a requirement under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act to immediately report a release.

The second unrelated incident occurred on August 2, 2012 when the plant’s sulfur recovery unit failed.

AEP said that an “unknown quantity” of hydrogen sulfide gas escaped through a flare stack as it failed to fully combust the hydrogen sulfide gas.

That incident was a contravention of the plant’s approval and CNR admitted to breaching a section of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, AEP said.

CNR was penalized $150,000 for the second incident.

AEP said that $450,000 of the total penalty will be directed to University of Calgary researchers who will use the funds to research the toxicological effects of chemicals measured in the air in and around Fort MacKay.


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