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Sarnia Refinery Fines

The following incidents occurred in 2005 and 2006, with fines paid in 2007 and 2008.

Incident 1: In early 2005, insulation was being removed at the Sarnia refinery under the information that it was asbestos free. However, the insulation did contain asbestos and three contract workers were exposed.

In May 2007, a settlement was reached with the Ontario Ministry of Labour for a fine of approximately $156,000 ($125,000 plus 25 percent victim surcharge) on two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OH&SA): failing to report in writing, and failing to use a pressurized respirator.

The contractor, Tornado Insulation, was also fined for $50,000 on one charge under the OH&SA.

Incident 2: On July 27, 2006, the Sarnia refinery reported a leak of acid vapour, which occurred during routine maintenance on an alkylation unit.

Suncor emergency crews responded immediately to evacuate personnel from the affected area. The leak was contained and there was no offsite impact or risk to the surrounding community

Affected workers received treatment at on-site facilities at the refinery and were taken to local hospitals for observation.

The alkylation unit stabilizes raw gasoline stock and converts some components to high octane blending stock. The unit uses hydrofluoric acid as a catalyst in this process.

Suncor pled guilty on March 31, 2008 to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to take every reasonable precaution when draining the hydrofluoric acid from pump 1-9 P04A for the protection of a worker. Suncor was fined $94,000 ($75,000 plus 25 percent victim surcharge) for this incident.

Incident 3: On August 22, 2006, the Sarnia refinery was evacuated when vapour containing amine and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) was released from the sulphur recovery unit. The incident occurred during project Genesis construction, when routing of amine material drain to a sump resulted in amine and H2S release through disconnected sump pump piping.

Work in the area was halted and all workers were evacuated from the affected area. Two contractors received first aid treatment on site at the refinery. An additional nine workers who were in the vicinity also reported to Suncor's medical centre as a precaution.

As part of the response to the incident, Suncor triggered a Code 8 alarm with the Chemical Valley Emergency Coordinating Organization (CVECO). This code is used to report a noticeable disturbance, or a potential problem, which could cause concern or inquiry by parties external to a CVECO member's site.

Suncor pled guilty on March 31, 2008 to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failure to lock out equipment that may endanger a worker. Suncor was fined $156,000 ($125,000 plus 25 percent victim surcharge) for this incident.

In-depth investigations of all three incidents took place at the refinery. The findings of the investigations were shared with the refinery leadership and employees, and were followed by thorough refinery process reviews and capture of lessons learned.

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