Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Second Storage Tank Collapses at Canadian Natural Oil Sands Site

After the killing of two non-Canadian "guest workers" from China only weeks ago, a second part of the same structures has collapsed, only thanks to a stop work order was life loss averted. This scenario will play out over and again as the rush to work has people who have no training working on the job and learning at the same time. They want to quintuple production and are out of "domestic labour sources" already. What to do? Kill a few people who aren't even allowed to apply to stay past their temporary work.


Second Storage Tank Collapses at Canadian Natural Oil Sands Site

By James Stevenson
14 May 2007 at 07:55 PM GMT-04:00

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. (CP) -- A stop-work order likely saved other injuries at Canadian Natural Resources' [TSX:CNQ; NYSE:CNQ] multibillion dollar Horizon oil sands project in northern Alberta last weekend when a second massive structure collapsed.

The latest incident occurred less than three weeks after the first tank collapsed, killing two Chinese workers and injured four others.

Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Department was investigating the first accident and workers were being kept away from the larger structures when the second tank collapsed Saturday evening.

''It was good that the stop-work order was in place,'' Peter Janson, vice president of engineering for Canadian Natural's Horizon oil sands project, said Monday from the northern Alberta site.

''And it's obvious to the rest of us that these stop orders that we get ... are put in place to avoid further injury in events like this where you just don't know what happened or what the causes are.''

Janson said the investigation into the first collapse is continuing and the company still doesn't know why the tanks are coming apart.

''The stop-work order is still in effect and nothing has really changed in the field, other than we now have more cleanup to do.''

The Alberta Federation of Labour says the second accident raises further questions about the overall safety of the Horizon work site.

The stop-work order covers five tanks in the under-construction tank farm. The tanks have an internal support structure of columns and beams to support the roof.

But because the area isn't a critical part of the oil sands plant, the company doesn't expect the accidents to delay the overall time frame of the project.

The Alberta Building Trades Council, which represents about half of the workers at the project, called for a common sense approach to safety.

Spokesman Ron Harry said there is no need for any general shutdown at the site beyond the immediate area where the accidents occurred.

''I am sure our affiliated unions and their signatory contractors would be willing to take over this part of the project and help to resolve the construction and safety concerns,'' he said.

Canadian Natural said Monday that it does have various insurance policies in place that could potentially cover the incidents.

The Horizon project, which is 65 per cent complete, will be Canada's fourth major open-pit oil sands megaproject when it comes onstream in late 2008.

There are currently about 4,500 workers on site, but another 2,000 are expected to join the ranks by this summer when the project reaches its peak construction period.

Earlier this month, the company warned investors that Horizon's $6.8-billion price tag could jump by as much as 12 per cent due to inflationary costs and production delays.

Work on the 110,000 barrel-per-day first phase of Horizon will come in overbudget due to cost challenges, including delayed equipment delivery, slow productivity, and increases in energy costs.

Overruns that could be more than $800 million would come on top of a built-in C$700-million contingency reserve established in 2005, and reflects soaring labour and supply costs plaguing the Alberta oil sands region.

© The Canadian Press 2007

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