2.6 Petroleum companies

Petroleum companies in Canada are concentrated in the Prairies but some are in other regions as well. Acids, caustics, hydrogen sulphide, and tetraethyl lead are all hazardous substances you may encounter on a petroleum company’s site. Petroleum-based products such as oils and benzene-derived products (phenols) are also present.

What to look for on-site

Look for effluent pipes, smokestacks, leaky storage tanks, soil contaminated from historic spills, and sulphur piles.

Contaminants to test for

Liquid discharges: conventional pollutants such as ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, total phosphorus, total suspended solids, and volatile suspended solids (VSS). Also, test for toxic pollutants such as heavy metals (chromium, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc), organic and inorganic compounds (benzene compounds, cyanides, cyclohexane, diethanolamine, dioxins and furans [total toxic equivalent, TEQ], dissolved organic carbon [DOC], ethylene glycol, oil and grease, phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], sulphides, toluene, and xylene).

Sediments: When companies release large concentrations of contaminants into waterways, a portion will almost inevitably contaminate the sediments, particularly in the case of organic contaminants that are not very water soluble. In those cases, sediment analysis is recommended.

Air releases: Test for organic pollutants such as benzene compounds, butadiene, cyclohexane, ethylene, ketones, methanol, naphtalene, phenolic compounds, and propylene. Some acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric) may be present, as well as other toxicants such as acetone, chlorine, isopropyl alcohol, nickel, and vanadium.

Acts and regulations that may apply

Fisheries Act (Petroleum Refinery Liquid Effluent Regulations and Guidelines)

Clean Air Act

Ontario Environmental Protection Act (MISA Regulation 537/93)

Ontario Water Resources Act