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Joint Canada/Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring begins summer air monitoring project
13 August 2013
A comprehensive environmental field study to gather information on air contaminants in the Wood Buffalo region in northeast Alberta, Canada (home to major oil sands projects) will occur from 12 August to mid-September 2013. The collaborative study between government, non-government, university and community partners will collect both airborne and ground-based measurements to determine how air pollutants are transformed and transported across the landscape.
The intensive study is part of the Joint Canada/Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM), announced in February 2012. The three-year plan is designed to strengthen environmental monitoring programs for air, water, land and biodiversity in the oil sands region by better understanding the state of the environment, cumulative effects and environmental change. (Earlier post.)
The six-week field study will involve a large suite of ground-based measurements taken at two locations, including the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association’s (WBEA) Air Monitoring Station 13, which was established in 2000, and is located five kilometers south of Fort McKay.
The other monitoring site which is provided by the Fort McKay First Nations, is set up for the next three years to support this year’s study as well as to also collect long-term measurements in the Fort McKay community.
Both monitoring sites included in the study are in close proximity to surface mining areas and allow for air pollutant mixtures from industry to the north and south to be studied separately. The ground portion of the study is designed to track air pollution levels as close as possible to mining, upgrading, and other industrial and transportation processes. This will help determine the concentration and type of chemical compounds deposited on the ground over a wide area.
In collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the study also includes measurements which will be conducted in the atmosphere using the NRC Convair-580 aircraft. The aircraft, equipped with air quality measurement instruments, will be used for flights over and downwind of the oil sands source region.
Additionally, the aircraft will be flying at low-altitude to collect air quality data for evaluation and validation of emissions inventories and to test satellite monitoring of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
Data collected through both the airborne and ground-based studies, will be used to evaluate high resolution air quality models for use in the oil sands region. Once the quality control process on the collected data has been completed, it will be made available through the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands data portal.
Partners in the Air Monitoring Summer Project include: Environment Canada (EC); Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD); Fort McKay First Nations (FMFN); Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA); National Research Council of Canada (NRC); Dalhousie University; Carleton University; York University; University of Toronto; University of Calgary; and University of Alberta.
Airborne study objectives:
Obtain data to evaluate and validate the emission inventories of the primary Criteria Air Contaminants and other reported air pollutants in the oil sands region;
Validate satellite retrieval data products for nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide; and
Evaluate high-resolution air quality models for use in the oil sands region.
Ground-based study objectives:
Improve on ability to track air pollution levels as close as possible to the mining, upgrading, and other industrial and transportation processes;
Determine concentrations and type of chemical compounds deposited on the ground over a wide area; and
Evaluate high-resolution air quality models for use in the oil sands regions.
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