The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has pleaded guilty to one count under environmental legislation related to a release of chlorine gas at their water treatment plant.

The incident took place on May 8, 2017, at the plant in Fort McMurray. It involved the accidental mixing of sodium hypochlorite and polyaluminum chloride, resulting in the release of chlorine gas.

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Provincial court has penalized the municipality $150,000 for releasing a substance into the environment in an amount, concentration or level or at a rate of release that causes or may cause a significant adverse effect. This is contrary to Section 109(2) of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.  

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Most of the penalty funds will go to two creative sentencing projects.

The first is a workshop developed by the municipality and the Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association to provide operators with a better understanding of what an “incident” is and what their legal obligations are to try to prevent the incidents, how to report them, and corrective actions.

The second will see the Northern Lights Health Foundation direct the funds to the Northern Lights Health Centre, Facility Maintenance department to purchase filters for the air handling units currently on hand.

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