Ideas on what to do to attract more people that wish to live in Lamont County
The proposed sulphur storage facility envisioned to
be constructed between Bruderheim and Lamont is a bad idea.
generate sulphur dioxide that causes environmental damage
and poses risks to health and lives — some instances:
- Fire at French sulphur-processing facility
French authorities confine thousands indoors over sulphur leak
TheRecord.com, Kitchener, Ontrio, Canada
March 21, 2009
The Associated Press
LILLE, France -- Authorities warned some 80,000 people in northern France to
stay home and close their windows and doors for nearly five hours Saturday
after a large cloud of sulphur leaked from a chemicals factory....
...Dozens of rescuers and chemicals teams fanned out near the chemicals
factory in an industrial suburb of Dunkirk where a fire broke out around 5
The alert was called off nearly six hours later. The site converts liquid
sulphur into a solid....(Full
Note by folc.ca: The emission incident happened in Dunkirk and was
caused by a fire at a sulphur processing facility. The fire produced a
large volume of sulphur-dioxide gas. There was no evacuation of people
in the vicinity, but 80,000 people were ordered to stay indoors. Eight
people breathed in the sulphur dioxide and required treatment. Two
people remained in hospital for observation.
Update 2009 03
22, 10:30 hrs: According to this Reuters article (in
au soufre à Dunkerque après un incendie” , in L’EXPRESS, 2009 03 21,
“Sulphur in suspension is not toxic and does not present a danger to health,
but it is irritating, specifies the prefecture.”
That statement is technically correct although very questionable in the
context of the Dunkirk sulphur fire. The cloud of pollution was not a
sulphur cloud. It was a cloud of sulphur dioxide gas,
that is deadly in relatively low concentrations.
Anyway, is is not clear from any of the reports on the Dunkirk sulphur
fire how much sulphur actually burned and how much sulphur dioxide was
produced by the fire. Although the article in L’EXPRESS stated that 250
tonnes of sulphur in storage had been ignited, none of the media reports
stated how much sulphur had been consumed in the fire. Just for the record,
when burning, one tonne of sulphur produces three tonnes of deadly
Sulphur-train crashes in Littleton, Colorado
Highlands Ranch Herald, Colorado, USA
Train crashes in Littleton
By Holly Cook
A freight train carrying molten
sulfur derailed at approximately 11:30 p.m.Jan. 16 in downtown Littleton,
causing a non-hazardous chemical spill and disrupting light rail service at
Littleton’s downtown station.
No injuries were reported.
The derailment marks the second in
Littleton in 13 months....(Full
Note by folc.ca: It appears that the reporter who wrote that article
and that the leaking sulphur cars caused "a non-hazardous chemical spill"
has been had. Her first clue should have been that a HazMat
coordinator was at the site of the derailment. After all, a
non-hazardous chemical spill does not require a HazMat coordinator.
About a hundred gallons of sulphur leaked. Some of the leaked sulfur started
burning and caused many small fires. For anyone who feels that burning
sulphur is not a danger to anyone, comments that tell a different story have
been appended to the article....(Full
Front-end loader caused sulphur fire
KNDO/KNDU - Yakima, WA, USA
2008 12 09
Sulfur Fire at Fertilizer Plant in Pasco
PASCO, Wash– A hazardous material fire breaks out in Pasco. Firefighters
were forced to change their normal methods of attacking the flames, because
a potentially dangerous chemical was burning.
Around 11 am Tuesday a fire broke out inside a sulfur bin at the Wilbur
Ellis fertilizer plant on Burlington St. in Pasco. Surrounding businesses
were evacuated because sulfur is such a dangerous toxin.
Pasco firefighters didn’t know what to expect when they arrived on scene,
but they prepared for the worst.
“It’s one of those rare examples where friction with a bucket and dust
product ignited a fire,” said Jerry Voss, Wilbur-Ellis Regulatory.
The fire started when a front end loader bucket scrapped against a wall
in a sulfur storage bin.
“It just scraped along one of the concrete walls and threw a spark. In a
solid form it’s not flammable however when it gets stirred up and there’s
dust in the air that does become flammable,” said Cpt. Pat Henrickson, Pasco
Once the fire was out firefighters sprayed water on their uniforms to get
the sulfur residue off.
“When we first got here and found out what it was we knew it was a strong
irritant and so everybody that got on scene as soon as they got out of the
apparatus they were putting on masks,” said Henrickson.
Fortunately no one was injured or had to be medically treated. (Link
August 15, 2008;
Zama City, Alberta, Canada
Sulphur-block fire 15km SW of Zama City
A sulphur-block fire at the Apache gas plant 15 km south-west of Zama City
was started by a front-end loader used to break up the sulphur block at a
gas processing plant operated by Apache Canada Ltd.
An evacuation order for the more than 250 residents of Zama City was issued.
The fire was started at 1 p.m., had been "contained around 5:45 p.m. and the
evacuation order was rescinded." (Full
Fire at Tiger Sulphur (Tigersul) in Calgary, Alberta
Calgary Company Handed Huge Fine
2007 11 01
CALGARY/AM770CHQR - A Calgary company has been fined $280,000 after
sulphur dioxide was released from their plant in the Foothills
Industrial Park in January 2005.
A huge conti[n]gency of city emergency workers responded, and several of
them reported adverse health effects because of the exposure.
Tiger Industries Limited pleaded guilty to one charge under the Alberta
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
The facility has since been sold and the company has until February 2008
to pay the fine. (Link
The Edmonton Journal carried a related story (2007 11 02; p. B10)
that identified that the incident caused a large response by emergency
crews, that a two-block area had been closed for most of the day, that a
police officer had been taken to hospital with minor respiratory
problems, and that several emergency workers [and] Tiger employees
complained of adverse health effects.
Interestingly, the Journal story, too, called the problem a
sulphur-dioxide release, but it identified the cause of that as “an
unexpected chemical reaction during a production run of a fertilizer
Tiger Industries Ltd. (a.k.a. Tigersul) in Calgary formed sulphur
into prills or pellets for adding those prills to various fertilizer
What was the “unexpected chemical reaction” that produced the SO2
release? Was it an explosion and fire? Burning sulphur produces SO2.
The bigger the sulphur fire, the more SO2 will be released.
Unless sufficiently heated, SO2 is heavier than air.
An unexpected chemical reaction? According to
Tiger Sulphur’s very own material safety data sheet for sulphur
SECTION IV HAZARDS INFORMATION
Unusual Fire and Explosion Hazards:
Dust suspended in air is readily ignited by flame, static
electricity or friction spark. Every reasonable step must be taken
to minimize dust formation. Dust tight casings should be equipped
with explosion relief vents. Sparkless electrical equipment is
recommended. Handling equipment must be grounded or bonded to avoid
static electricity. Keep away from sources of flame or sparks.
Detailed recommendations in Manufacturing Chemists Association SD-74
and National Safety Council 612 Bulletins covering “Sulphur” should
be followed when handling Sulphur.
SECTION IX HAZARDOUS INGREDIENTS (Mixtures Only)
Material or Components:
Mixtures with chlorates, nitrates or other oxidizing agents may
As of the January 28, 2006 issue of the EUB’s
Identification Code Licence Eligibility Report, Tiger Industries
Limited no longer qualified for licence eligibility.
The source of the two news items is an
Alberta Government information bulletin. The bulletin contains
information important to anyone living close to a sulphur processing
Investigation after the incident determined that the
release was the result of an unexpected chemical reaction during a
production run of a sulphur-based fertilizer blend. The combination
of un-degassed sulphur [that would have to be hydrogen sulfide?]
and an impurity in a copper micronutrient [any guesses as to
what that may have been?] resulted in a chemical reaction that
produced significant quantities of sulphur dioxide.
It is odd that the chemical reaction is not described in
the bulletin. Was it an explosion, perhaps a fire? More information can
be obtained by writing to Josh Stewart, whose contact details are shown
at the end of the 
Alberta Government information bulletin.
- October 26, 2004 — Iraq sulphur fire breaks records
A fire at an Iraq chemical plant has caused the largest recorded man-made release of sulphur dioxide, experts say.
The fire, which broke out on 24 June 2003, produced more of the polluting gas than most volcanic eruptions.
On average it generated about 21,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide a day, which is half the daily emissions of the gas produced by the United States.
The plume of smog was detected by a Nasa satellite, the researchers say in Geophysical Research Letters.
...the fire caused about $40 million of damage to local crops - along with respiratory problems in local people. (Continue reading "Iraq sulphur fire breaks records"
Engineers Battle Sulfur Fire (off-site, PDF file, 952 kB)
- 2004 02 18,
Khoransan Province, Iran
Forty-eight cars (17 loaded with sulfur, 6 with gasoline, 7 with fertilizer, and 10 with cotton)
of a freight train derailed, burned and exploded.
About 460 people were injured and escaped with their lives, and 328 people died.
Train explosion in Iran
Medicine Hat, Alberta, CanadaAt 0055 mountain standard time
on 04 December 2002, eastward Canadian Pacific Railway freight train
614-046, proceeding toward Dunmore, Alberta, from Lethbridge, Alberta,
derailed 42 loaded non-pressure tank cars of molten sulphur at Mile 11.8 of
the Taber Subdivision, near Bullshead, [and about 8 miles west of Medicine
Hat,] Alberta. Ten tank cars were breached,
spilling molten sulphur, which caught fire. Approximately 20 people were
evacuated from farms near the accident site as a precaution due to the toxic
nature of the smoke. There were no injuries. [Note: As of today, some of the
owners of the farms that were evacuated are still trying to receive
compensation for their losses. Except for a case in which a private
settlement took place, not a dime has been received by them so
far, and the site restoration - contracted to HAZCO - is said to be far from
satisfactory. One of the land owners affected stated that HAZCO
abandoned the reclamation effort.]
2002 12 18
Colorado Firefighters Battle Sulfur Fire
Near Louviers, Douglas Counties, CO, USA
A derelict tanker car that was being cut up for scrap metal still
contained a large amount of sulfur [still about one-quarter full with an
estimated 30 tons of sulphur] and the cutting torches ignited the
material, according to Andy Lyon, public information officer with South
Fire fighters had been on site once before they started to fight the fire,
but at that time they had seen no burning sulfur (flames of burning sulphur
are invisible in sunlight) and had left again.
The fire proved to be difficult to put out. Whenever fire was put out, it
A small area (of unspecified size) around the fire was evacuated. Other
than to say that a number of people experienced breathing difficulties, the
article does not state how many people were affected. However, the story
also stated that no one was hospitalized….(Full
Story - with photos)
Pine River Gas Plant, B.C., March 1996 to
March 2001, ten sulphur fires at a sulphur pipeline, eight of those in the
year 2000, and six of them in in September of that year. The September
9, 2000 fire destroyed the terminus building and caused the released to
damage vegetation and to hurt two people. (Summary)
Edmonton, May 19, 1982 -- 38 railcars carrying sulphur residue caught
on fire at the Calder Yards, creating a potentially hazardous toxic gas. (City
of Edmonton - Hazard Analysis - June 2002)
CAPE TOWN BROWN HAZE STUDY, M C WICKING-BAIRD, M G DE VILLIERS, R K DUTKIEWICZ; Energy Research Institute; University of Cape Town; P.O. Box 207, Plumstead 7801, South Africa
Table 7.3 indicates the number of exceedences of the US EPA and health standards (WHO guidelines for NO2 1-hour and SO2 10-minute) over the one-year period. High NO2 levels, especially at the CBD, are once again evident. The high CBD values are due to high vehicle densities in the CBD. It is interesting to note that the PM10 daily standard was never exceeded at the monitoring sites. SO2 guidelines were only exceeded on three occasions, excluding an abnormal sulphur fire incident. (Full Report)
- Australia: Uranium Research Group Submission to the World Heritage Committee
Although the Supervising Scientist, the government authority charged with assessing the environmental performance of Ranger Uranium Mine, has recognised that there have been many breaches of quality control, it is asserted that there have been no significant environmental effects outside of the mine site (Kay, 1997). However, the operation of the Ranger Uranium Mine has involved incidents external to the mine project area that could well have been detrimental to the environment. The spillage of acid at the Darwin wharf and a sulphur fire at Noonamah were noted for their lack of mention during the December 1996 Ranger Uranium Mine Environmental Performance Review 6 (Supervising Scientist, 1997). In addition, cumulative effects from repeated incidents is a real possibility (Kay, 1997). There have been over one hundred breaches of the Environmental Requirements (see Appendix 2) and no known mention of cumulative impacts or description of what criteria and research was used to assess the apparent lack of environmental impacts. This is an untenable situation that illustrates the ineffective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in Australia, a process that needs improvement, not the insidious dilution that is occurring.
1.2 Current Uranium Mining Activities
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM, RELEASE OF REPORT: DESAI COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY - SULPHUR FIRE AT SOMERSET WEST, 10 JULY 1997
(Re: Macassar Sulphur Fire, Dec. 17, 1995
See also, in relation to that fire:
Bushfire Causes Chemical Fire Inferno (IFFN No. 14 - January 1996,
million payout for Macassar victims
Ten years ago, on the evening of 16 December 1995, a veld fire spread to
stockpiled sulphur at the AECI factory in Somerset West. The 15,000 tons
of sulphur ignited and smoke plumes quickly engulfed the nearby
disadvantaged community of Macassar. Two young men died the same night,
and an estimated 15,000 people were poisoned to varying degrees. Pets
also died, as did garden plants and crops. During the late 1990s the
Desai Commission of Enquiry into the fire found AECI’s conduct was
“casually negligent”. Now, following years of litigation, AECI has
recently paid out an estimated R8 million to the victims of Macassar.
(Source: Helderburg Sun)
- On early Saturday evening, residents of Macassar were told to stay
indoors and to close doors and windows. Due to high winds (8-12 m/s [29
- 43 kmh]), fire-fighting efforts were ineffective and the fire
intensity increased. Macassar was directly downwind. Because the wind
direction did not vary from about 20.00 to 01.00 in the morning,
concentrations in even well sealed homes increased and exposures were
prolonged. Residents began to experience increasingly intense
discomfort, eye and skin irritation, breathing difficulty,
gastrointestinal cramps and respiratory distress. Shortly after
midnight, an evacuation of the town was attempted in a chaotic
operation. Between 3000 and 5000 residents were moved to a shopping mall
in Firgrove about 5 km distant. Most left after midnight. Despite this
effort, approximately nine deaths occurred, including two men (both
asthmatics) driving in opposite directions along a highway. In addition,
between 1000 and 2000 people visited emergency respiratory clinics that
were set up soon afterwards near the affected community, and
approximately 15 people were later diagnosed with chronic asthma-like
respiratory disease. The chemical company sponsored several emergency
actions, including setting up local clinics where some health services
(e.g. spirometry) were provided in the days and weeks after the fire.
- Estimation and Evaluation of Exposures from a Large Sulfur
Fire in South Africa
Authors: Batterman S.A.1; Cairncross E.2; Huang Y-L.1
Source: Environmental Research, Volume 81, Number 4, November 1999, pp.
Publisher: Academic Press
A massive fire at a sulfur stockpile in the Western Cape Province of
South Africa in December 1995 is estimated to have released over
14,000 t of sulfur dioxide (SO2 [that means that 7,000 t
of sulphur burned]) over a 20-h period. High and persistent winds
greatly reduced the effectiveness of fire-fighting activities and
increased the severity of impacts. Nearby urban and agricultural
areas were seriously affected. Thousands of people were evacuated
from the nearby town of Macassar located 2.5–4 km downwind, and at
least several deaths occurred. Agricultural impacts ranged over a
broad area extending to 30 km from the fire site and included severe
damage to plants and some animal deaths. This paper describes the
chronology of the fire, the emergency responses, and the immediate
impacts. SO2 concentrations are estimated using
dispersion modeling, and predictions are evaluated using available
monitoring information. Sensitivity analyses are used to test
unknown or uncertain model parameters. The SO2
concentrations estimated in Macassar reached extremely dangerous
levels, at times over the IDLH level (100 ppm). Predictions agree
with the available but very limited monitoring data, as well as with
the symptomology of Macassar residents and plant damage patterns.
Procedures to deal with the limited information and variability in
this fire and similar incidents are suggested. The fire is a tragic
demonstration of shortcomings in hazardous material management and
emergency response. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: 1: Environmental
and Industrial Health, University of Michigan, 109 Observatory
Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109 2: Department of
Physical Science, Peninsula Technikon, Bellville, Western Cape,
7535, South Africa
The full text article is available for purchase
$60.12 plus tax (Link
- Brimstone and heaving earth, by Jesse Nash (a man who is now disabled on account of exposure to dangerous chemicals, apparently mainly by being involved in processing sulphur during the year of 1979.)
....Sulphur is shipped to the plant in solid form contained in steam jacketed rail-cars. My job was opening the rail-cars and hooking up the steam pipes to melt the sulphur. Forty-eight hours later, the sulphur was melted, and the molten sulphur was dumped into launders and then pumped into heated storage tanks. I had never heard of hydrogen sulfide and no respirators were ever given to us.
One time, I opened a dome lid and was overcome with the noxious fumes. Afraid that I would pass-out and fall onto the tracks, I laid down, rolled over and clung to the hand holds. When I finally caught my breath, I climbed down off the car. I thought it was a gas leak from one of the four sulfuric acid plants in the area. When I got home, I took off my jacket, and noticed that it was full of tiny holes.
Sulphur fires were as common as the sunrise. They usually start because sulphur fibers hanging on the open dome lids of the rail-cars produce static electricity if a slight breeze is blowing. During unloading operations, sulphur spills onto the ground. The ground around the yard is a dirty yellow. Locomotives pulling rail cars pass and ignite the sulphur on the tracks. People used to drop cigarette butts and that would set off a sulphur fire too.
The worst part about sulphur fires is that you can't see the flame. The fires are spotted by a plume of bluish smoke, if we saw them. Otherwise, the sudden reaction of coughing, gagging and burning eyes sent everyone running for the water buckets. We didn't have any running water so we had to grab five gallon buckets and get water from a nearby ditch.
I got tired of the sulphur fires and noxious fumes. I applied for a transfer to work as an oiler at the Swift Creek mine.... (Full Story)
- Hocking, Drake. 1975. Effects on the forest of sulphur dioxide from a sulphur fire near Edson, Alberta. Information Report NOR-X-139. Edmonton, AB: Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Northern Forest Research Center. 8 p. 
Apparently, the damage caused by the sulphur dioxide released in that fire was extensive and wide-spread, comprising massive harm on vegetation and wildlife for many miles downwind from the fire. The report is being frequently cited in the literature pertaining to sulphur fires.
If we permit the Hazco sulphur storage site to be constructed right next to Bruderheim, it will obviously not take very long to use up the space desired for that. More sites will be required in short order. There must be better locations that can be used for sulphur storage: in isolated areas; not adjacent to the homes of people and to sensitive industrial plants, and not locations comprised of prime farmland. What would be wrong with establishing a sulphur storage facility right in the centre of the plants that will be producing all that sulphur, at the site that was established for the purpose of handling the output of all of those upgraders: the Scotford switch-yard?
At the very least, are we not entitled to know what disaster contingency plan is proposed for the event that rapid evacuation of other industries and the public in the event of a disaster, e.g. sulphur fire, will be necessary? It is doubtful that local fire-fighting teams will be able to contain or extinguish a fire at the proposed Hazco sulphur storage site. No one is capable to prevent the release of harmful sulphur dioxide when such a fire is burning. The only remedy will be to evacuate all residents in the vicinity. What plans are being proposed for that or for livestock evacuation?
The 8-page public-relations brochure* by means of which County of Lamont residents are being informed of what Hazco wants them to know mentions nothing more than "...a facility emergency response plan will be developed in cooperation with local emergency response officials." (* Integrated Industrial Railway Park & Alberta Sulphur Terminals Ltd.; Lamont County 35-055-20 W4M); by Hazco, April 2005)
As already stated, it is very doubtful that our fire teams will measure up to the task. For one thing, it appears that they never yet had to put out a sulphur fire. Aside from that, what will the fire teams do first in the event of such a fire, attempt to put out the fire or attempt to put the residents in the vicinity of the storage site out of harm's way? Where will the evacuated residents spend their days until the fire is out and it is safe to move to back home to repair the damages? (See footnote to
SO2 Toxicity Table)
What is the design for environmental monitoring and early warning facilities and procedures? Is that finished or is it, too, considered to be a small detail that will be dealt with after the fact?
Would there be anything wrong with having something like the following in place?
Evacuation and Shelter Criteria outside the Emergency
Example Site Specific Drilling & Completions, Emergency Response Plan
For DRAYTON VALLEY & LODGEPOLE AREAS, DOMINION EXPLORATION CANADA
concentrations below 10 ppm (1 hour average) in unevacuated areas,
hypersusceptible individuals must be informed of the H2S
concentrations and advised to leave the area if health symptoms
persist or increase. All other individuals should consider shelter
or leaving the area and seek medical advice if health symptoms
develop. Notification of hypersusceptible individuals must begin
when H2S levels reach 1 ppm (1
Any situation where recorded ambient H2S
concentrations reach 10 ppm averaged over 3 minutes average in an
8-hour period, local conditions will be assessed and all persons may
If the H2S
concentrations approach 20 ppm (3 minute average) or more, urgent
evacuation of the area must take place or the release must be
If the measured concentration of SO2
reaches an average level of 0.3 ppm for 24 hours, immediate
evacuation of the area must take place.
If the measured concentration of SO2
reaches an average level of 1.0 ppm for 3-hour average or 5
ppm for 15 minutes, individuals will be contacted and mandatory
Mind you, that still requires a plan for where to shelter the
people that would have to be evacuated. What about the animals on
surrounding farms? Well, that needs to be resolved in advance. It is
hard to imagine that compensation will be eagerly paid after the fact.
Experience elsewhere shows that adequate compensation payments are generally not
made for years after a catastrophic event, and often not at all — not even after
lengthy court battles.
Back to Index for sulphur-storage web pages
Back to Bruderheim Main Page
Posted July 23, 2005
2006 03 21 (added reference to Pine River Gas Plant
2007 05 18 (added more references t and excerpts from
reports on the massive 1995 sulphur fire in South Africa)
2009 01 08 (added information on sulphur fires: Zama City, Alberta; Pasco,
Washington; Colorado, USA, and Khoransan Province, Iran)