APEGA announced the results of its formal investigation regarding permit holder Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) and the Horizon Oil Sands Project tank roof-support structure that failed during construction on April 24, 2007, resulting in the tragic loss of life and injuries to workers.
The investigation considered whether CNRL as a permit holder with responsibility for approving designs, design changes, and construction plans, as well as meeting building and safety code requirements, did so in a skilled or professional manner.
CNRL voluntarily admitted to unprofessional conduct in its engagement and supervision of contractors performing engineering work and has agreed to sanctions.
In addition to a $10,000 fine, the maximum allowed under APEGA’s current legislation, CNRL will work with APEGA to develop a new practice standard on outsourcing engineering and geoscience work. This standard will set clear expectations relative to the responsibilities of APEGA permit holders and members when outsourcing engineering services. Clear expectations are the first critical step in enabling members to comply.
The standard will be approved and established by APEGA Council and be actively enforced by APEGA’s investigative and discipline committees, as well as its Practice Review Board. CNRL will support the costs of the standard development (to a maximum of $150,000), including broad consultation with APEGA members to clarify current outsourcing issues and concerns.
“This is the most significant sanction APEGA has applied to a permit holder,” said registrar Carol Moen, P.Eng. “An updated practice standard will clarify the professional obligations of all our members and permit holders when outsourcing engineering or geoscience services. Clarity of these responsibilities in conjunction with APEGA’s enforcement will minimize the likelihood of events like the CNRL tank incident from happening again in Alberta.”
Information in the Government of Alberta Occupational Health & Safety investigation report on the incident, released in February 2016, helped APEGA determine that it remained in the public interest to proceed with an investigation despite the considerable passage of time since the event.