A new special court-ordered study is being done to better improve worker safety around Tailings Ponds.
The University of Alberta is doing the research after an on-site death at a Suncor Tailings Pond near Fort McMurray.
Jerry Cooper drowned after falling through the ground which was softened by a leak in a tailings pipeline.
U of A Assistant Professor Lianne Lefsrud tells Mix News basically no research has been done to better protect workers around these areas.
“Most of the extensive risk analysis tends to focus on catastrophic failure and impacts to either the environment or members of the public. There’s practically no research that’s been done with regard to worker safety.”
Lefsrud says the idea is to identify the hazards and possible advance procedures.
“The point of this is not to add additional work or a regulatory burden but to enhance processes that are in place already. So how else can we fine tune them and can we enhance them to ensure worker safety is better protected.”
They will be making multiple trips as the weather changes.
Lefsrud also notes they will be traveling to Fort McMurray in August for an on-site assessment of Suncor’s Tailings Ponds.
“We’re going to be hosting industry forums across the province. Because it’s not just tailings operators, it’s operators of any dams and there are 17 dams around the province.”
The project is expected to last two years and examine how these hazards change throughout the year as well as how workers can identify them.