Bitumen battery raises stink

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County has postponed an application to redistrict land south of Peavine Metis Settlement to allow a bitumen battery until the developer deals with a development permit.
At its regular meeting Oct. 26, council tabled second reading to land-use bylaw 23-2022 to redistrict property Pt. SE (LSD 1) 2-78-16-W5 south of Peavine to rural industrial from agriculture.
Council received an application from Woodcote Oil & Gas Inc. to redistrict the land owned by Peavine, Pat Olansky, director of planning and development, told council.
Reeve Robert Nygaard said council will dig for details before they considers second reading.
“We won’t do anything until we get more information,” Nygaard said.
During the public hearing, council discovered that the developer has already started to develop the site without a development permit.
“They don’t have development permit,” Olansky said.
The site currently includes eight 1,000-barrel tanks, engines driven by propane and four well heads, she wrote in a report to council.
Olansky added an application would be presented to the Municipal Planning Commission.
Area resident Darrell Jarvis expressed concern about the smell and traffic when he addressed council at the public hearing.
“I’m going to be surrounded by smelly oil wells,” Jarvis says.
“I smell bitumen in my house. It’s too strong.”
He suggested the developer install a vapour recovery unit to reduce the smell.
“I probably wouldn’t complain if it weren’t for the smell,” Jarvis said.
He suggested the developer, county and a representative from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) have a meeting to know what’s going on.
Jarvis noted he has already spoken with an official from the AER.
Council agreed.
“We have an obligation to our ratepayers,” South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart said.
“I’m not comfortable passing it (the bylaw) without more information.”
Heavy industrial is neither a permitted or discretionary use in the agriculture district.

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