Turner Valley Gas Plant Provincial Historic Site

Environmental Clean-up

Contaminants associated with gas production were found at the Turner Valley Gas Plant. Alberta Culture has spent considerable effort to determine the nature of the contaminants and develop a strategy for dealing with them.

As an industrial facility, the Turner Valley Gas Plant is unique among Alberta's historic sites and one of only a few in Canada. Alberta Culture is working with the Environmental group of Alberta Transportation to remediate the contaminants while maintaining the historic character the of Turner Valley Gas Plant.

The naturally occurring gas and oil seeps were widely know in the Turner Valley area at the turn of the century. They were in fact what attracted the attention of investors, and eventually lead to the drilling of the first well. The well struck a petroleum production zone on May 14, 1914. This led to the construction of the Turner Valley Gas Plant.

Managing the combination of naturally occurring gas and oil seeps and the contaminants produced during the operation of the Turner Valley Gas Plant is a priority for the Alberta Government.

Four kinds of contaminants normally associated with oil and gas production were found on the site: asbestos, mercury, sulphur, and hydrocarbons. We have a plan for remediating each of these contaminants:

Asbestos

Many of the pipes and vessels on the Turner Valley Gas Plant site were insulated with asbestos. An asbestos abatement program was carried out by Alberta Infrastructure and was completed in 2002. All the asbestos was either removed from the site or encapsulated (contained). Air monitoring was conducted while the program was underway to ensure this contaminant did not migrate off site.

Mercury

Mercury was found in isolated areas immediately adjacent to a few buildings and mercury vapours were detected above cracks in the floor of some of the buildings. It has been suggested that the mercury found in the soil and in the cracks of the floors comes a number of broken meters (manometers), which were used as part of the plant operation. Alberta Infrastructure has completed a mercury abatement program. Mercury contaminated soil was removed from the site and taken to an approved land-fill site. The soil was replaced by clean fill. Mercury was also removed from the cracks in the floors of buildings and the cracks were sealed.

Underground Storage Tanks

Several underground storage tanks and the contaminated soil associated with them have been removed and hauled off-site to an approved landfill site. A few underground storage tanks were left in place because they are either historically significant or their removal would have resulted in damage to the historic buildings. These tanks were cleaned and then filled with concrete. This work was completed in the fall, 2003.

Sulphur

Sulphur was deposited in the soil adjacent to the Sulphur Plant and at the Bagging Plant on the lower terrace. Soil with visible sulphur deposits was removed from the site. Lime was added to the remaining soil to restore the pH level. New soil was brought in to restore the grade. This work was completed in November 2004.

Hydrocarbons

Alberta Culture wanted to ensure that any contaminants on the Turner Valley Gas Plant site were not able to migrate off-site and into the adjacent Sheep River. With Alberta Environment’s approval, a groundwater containment system was engineered and built on-site along the river bank between the site and the river. This system, consisting of a bentonite clay slurry containment wall, groundwater interceptor pipes, flood protection clay banks, erosion protection rocks and a water treatment plant were designed and constructed in 2006-07 and has been working since April 2007. Water monitoring wells were constructed along the containment system to monitor the effectiveness of the system.

View the environmental studies and test results.

 

 

Last reviewed/revised: March 18, 2016