One man is dead and two people, including an RCMP officer, admitted to hospital after poisonous hydrogen sulphide leaked Saturday night from a gas production line at a northern Alberta job site, authorities say.
Fox Creek RCMP and firefighters were called around 8:40 p.m. Saturday to help two oilfield workers in distress near Fox Creek, adjacent Highway 947 and the ANC road, RCMP said in a news release.
Three workers were doing maintenance on a gas line when the hydrogen sulphide, or H2S, leaked and two of the men were exposed. The third worker , was a safe distance away and helped his colleagues, RCMP said.
The Fox Creek Fire department responded immediately and with the assistance of breathing packs, were able to assist the two workers and transport them to the Fox Creek Hospital.
The gas also affected a Fox Creek RCMP officer conducting a road block nearby, police said. Paramedics arrived immediately to treat the officer and he remained in Fox Creek hospital Sunday, Sergeant Jeff McBeth said in a written release.
Occupational Health and Safety investigators were at the work site south of Fox Creek on Sunday, said spokeswoman Tracey Kipta.
“OHS shut down the site, they’ve secured it and they’re completing their investigation right now,” she said Sunday.
It appears three workers were using a wand steamer on the gas production line to rid the line of “ice fog” — essentially a chunk of ice — when the hydrogen sulphide was released, said Kipta.
“They have a big truck, a steaming truck, and they use a big wand … and apply it to the outside of the line. Shortly after, it released H2S gas,” Kipta said.
The man who died at the scene worked for Celtic Exploration Ltd., a Calgary-based oil and gas exploration company. Another man working for EnerMax and a third employee working for Vencor were taken to hospital according to preliminary reports.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board has also been notified about the incident, RCMP said.
(Updated: 12:45pm, 1:30pm, May 1, 2011)
(update 1:35) Fox Creek hospital was contacted, the unidentified staff answering the phone stated they were unable to comment. There were no patients there nor was there a doctor available to comment.
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