Edmonton

3rd bitumen upgrader planned for Sturgeon County

Petro-Canada has filed an application to build a bitumen upgrader east of Edmonton, a plan that is unpopular with nearby residents.

Petro-Canada has filed an application to build a bitumen upgrader east of Edmonton, a plan that is unpopular with nearby residents.

If the project gets the green light from Alberta's Energy and Utilities Board, there will bethree upgrading facilities inSturgeon County, a growing region 40 kilometres east of Edmonton.

Sherrill Cholewa, who lives in Redwater about 1½ kilometres from the closest facility, said residents don't like living with the noise, traffic, smells and potential safety concerns of upgraders.

"When we bought and built our home five years ago, we weren't made aware that any of this was proposed or even possible," she said.

The upgrader is expected to eventually process up to 340,000 barrels per day of bitumen —a heavy, tar like substance — mostly from the Fort Hills mine north of Fort McMurray.

The crude oil extracted in the process would then be sold for refining into consumer products such as gasoline and diesel fuel.

"This regulatory filing is a big step forward on the Fort Hills Project," said Neil Camarta, Petro-Canada's senior vice-president for oilsands.

"By integrating the Fort Hills mine with the Sturgeon upgrader, we will capture the full oilsands value chain right here in Alberta."

North West Upgrading and Syneco Energyalready runtwo upgraders in the region.

Cholewa said she will be raising her concerns at hearings beforethe board, but doubts there's very little she or her neighbours can do to challenge the projects.

Two sour gas leaks in Septemberat a Shell upgraderin nearbyFort Saskatchewan have led to calls from residents for an environmental impact study before new facilities are built.

With files from Canadian Press