Hold your breath! Unplanned power outage at Spectra Sour Gas Plant in Taylor, BC causes massive flare and small grass fire

2011: Don’t flare up – Spectra’s new turnaround process

During turnaround at Spectra Energy’s McMahon natural gas processing plant in Taylor, British Columbia this June, the company introduced a new process designed to eliminate flaring of sour gas at the facility.

The main motivation for developing the process was to reduce flaring of sour gas. 

“We’re always trying to, not necessarily save gas, but do the right thing and come up with new ways instead of flaring off, which is not a good thing,” he added. “We have to actually incinerate the gas, it’s so sour.”

“But the idea right from the start was getting rid of our flaring.” [Emphasis added]

Large flames seen at Spectra Energy Plant in Taylor

Here is post from the District of Taylor:

There was an unplanned power outage at the Spectra plant in Taylor. When power is lost, the plant depressurizes for safety. Spectra has advised that they are working to bring the plant back on line and the flaring will diminish. There is no risk to the public. [Unless you breath during the incident.]
Charlette McLeod

According to the Taylor Fire Department, the Spectra Energy Facility had an emergency shutdown. The shutdown caused the large flames as the excess gas was burned off. The incident also caused a small grass fire, which was quickly extinguished by the Taylor Fire Department.At this time, Spectra Energy has not provided any information about the incident.

The Taylor Fire Department is at the Spectra Energy Facility in Taylor after reports of large flames at the plant.

At this time the Fort St. John Fire Department reports there is NO cause for alarm and crews are on scene to help employees of Spectra Energy with the incident.

We have been unable to get information from the Taylor Fire Department or Spectra Energy about the incident. [Emphasis added]

2015 09 29 Spectra Plant unplanned power outage results in massive flare,Taylor, BC, dismissed as no emergency by fire department

Here is a Facebook post from the Fort St. John Fire Department.

We have received several calls for an explosion at the Spectra Energy Plant in Taylor.


Posted by Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters Association on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Some comments to the fire dept posting:

Tamara Russell I think educating yourselves on what living next to a gas plant and turbine station is like would be of great benefit. This is normal. When the sirens activate, is when you need to hustle. Lived and worked in Taylor for many years and the village is well equipped to handle emergencies as well as the emergency responders on and off site. So keep calm smile emoticon flaring is a very common practice in the oil and gas industry.

Matt St George Someone esd’d the plant and sent all the gas to the flare pit… That’ll be what the jet engine sound is
      • Zach Hennessy Emergency shutdown everything straight to flare!!!
      • Nikki Leigh Just a flare eh

        Heather Jones Wtf…. it’s shaking my house and sounds like a turbo plane outside…

        Brandi Nome Oh my gooooooosh!!!! That was the most terrifying thing I’ve seen in Taylor yet . . .

        Jason Henson Shit would wake a baby up no place for couples.

      • Nicole Caroline Duncan The plant was doing what it was designed to do we live not far and did not wake our 7 month old baby

      • Amy Burrows Matthew Bennett did you see or hear this?

[Refer also to:

2015 02 21: Top 10 air polluters in B.C.Spectra Energy natural gas plant leads list, according to review of federal pollutant inventory

Spectra Energy’s Pine River gas plant in northeast B.C. is far and away the province’s biggest single emitter of major air pollutants, according to a Vancouver Sun analysis of Environment Canada’s annual national pollutant release inventory.

The Chetwynd-area plant reported 12,021 tonnes of major air pollutants in 2013 — more than twice its closest industrial competitor, Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat, at 5,820 tonnes.

Pollutants covered in The Sun’s analysis include nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, (smog producing) volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less, a size that can settle in the lungs and cause respiratory problems.

Spectra’s McMahon gas plant in Taylor ranks seventh on the air-pollution list at 3,043 tonnes and its Fort Nelson gas plant 11th at 2,716 tonnes.

The familiar piles of yellow sulphur on the Vancouver harbour-front are a byproduct of the processing of natural gas from the northeast. About 90 per cent of air pollution from the Pine River plant is sulphur dioxide.

Based on the Environment Canada data, The Sun has created an interactive map at vancouversun.com showing the location of B.C.’s largest industrial polluters, including a breakdown of the types of pollutants each facility emits.

Francis Ries, a senior air-quality project engineer for Metro Vancouver who assisted in The Sun’s data analysis, said readers may be surprised at the amount of air pollution generated by the natural gas industry. “The forest of dots in the northeast is pretty striking,” he commented.

Industries are required to report data on some 300 pollutants where they meet the minimum threshold, Ries said, but the federal government lacks the staff to ensure accurate reporting.

“There’s not a lot of verification or oversight of the numbers,” he said.

While pollution measurements from an industrial stack are relatively straightforward, the data does not account for “fugitive emissions” of which there can be plenty in the natural gas industry, both in pipelines and at processing plants, Ries noted.

Spectra Energy vice-president of external affairs Gary Weilinger said the company “meets or exceeds” provincial air pollution standards. … Pollutants are “broadly and widely dispersed” and are causing no significant impact, Weilinger said from Calgary. [Self regulation anyone?]

… Communications officer David Karn released a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Environment saying that within the last five years, the Pine River plant has had five exceedances related to sulphur dioxide and the McMahon plant three. “….To date, no enforcement has taken place …”

Spectra is not the only industrial operator in Taylor — a community in the Peace River valley — and is participating in a regional air-quality review with the province, he added. [Controlling it, perhaps? Providing fabricated data?]

While the national pollutant release inventory does not tally greenhouses gases, B.C. Ministry of Environment greenhouse gas emissions data for 2013 reveal that Spectra Energy operations hold four of the top-10 spots — including its Fort Nelson gas plant, highest at 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

When it comes to toxic metal releases to air, water and soil, the Trail operations of Teck Metals Ltd. topped the list at 6,365 kilograms, mostly lead, selenium and arsenic. [And the world wonders why Canadians vote so stupidly?]

The national pollution data is for 2013, the most recent year for which Environment Canada has released information. [Emphasis added]

2015 05 09: Highway closed after gas leak at Spectra Energy plant in Taylor

We have published another story that includes more information about what happened Saturday afternoon in Taylor. You can read the story here: http://energeticcity.ca/?p=75343

The District of Taylor says they are working with Spectra Energy to resolve the issue. Chief Stebbing says the public is not in danger at this time. [Unless you breath]

We are hearing reports of a leak at the Spectra Energy gas plant in Taylor, B.C. The Alaska Highway is closed in both directions near the plant and traffic is being turned around.

At this time we are still trying to get information from both the District of Taylor and Spectra Energy about the incident and will post updates as soon as possible.

2015 05 09 Spectra butane leak at Taylor BC that led to evacuations

2015 05 14: 2,200 barrels of butane spewed from Spectra’s Taylor Plant: NEB

Despite assurances from Spectra Energy’s McMahon Gas Plant and the RCMP that a major gas leak had been fully contained by Saturday, a National Energy Board (NEB) spokesperson said it wasn’t until Sunday morning that the leak had been completely contained.

About 2,200 barrels worth of butane leaked into the atmosphere Saturday, said the NEB’s Darin Barter, some of which could be seen in a thick white plume visible from the outskirts of Taylor.

The BC Oil & Gas Commission “were getting readings off those tanks well into Sunday,” said Barter, adding that “this incident was actually not under control until Sunday.”

The incident caused the partial evacuation of portions of southwest Taylor, and the Alaska Highway was closed in both directions while crews worked to contain the leak.

Asked why the plant’s account of when the leak was fully contained differed from the NEB’s, Spectra Energy communications advisor Jesse Semko said the company might have had to do a depressurization of a tank, which would have meant further leaks.

“They shut off the valve and the line to the butane tank which basically stopped the plume,” he said. “From there, there would have been some depressurization of the tank.”

He didn’t know the exact time when that depressurization occurred.

Barter said 2,200 barrels of butane represents “a significant volume of gas.” [Does Spectra pay Canadians for that significant financial loss? Does the company pay anything for the pollution caused]

On Monday, technical staff from the NEB were on site conducting an inspection.

“We don’t have a timeline for this investigation,” Barter said. “[The leak] was only brought to a close [Sunday], so I’m thinking several weeks as an estimate before we get a firm cause.” [Emphasis added]

2014 11 17: Spectra Energy plant loses power over the weekend

2014 11 15 spectraplant at Taylor, unplanned power outage

In Taylor, Spectra Energy’s McMahon Gas Plant suffered a major power loss during the weekend. It experienced a total facility outage on Saturday morning due to the failure of an electrical cable. There were no injuries reported but there was plenty of public concern, when as part of the process of restarting full operations, it was necessary to undertake a controlled flaring, to purge some of the natural gas at the plant. 

Spectra also concedes, while it continues to work with all of the authorities involved, throughout the process, of restarting full operations at the plant, more flaring, may periodically occur. [Emphasis added]

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