Information on Environmental Emergencies Management at the Temiscaming Site
Rayonier AM Canada Industries Inc. (RYAM) at the Temiscaming site employs 700 people. Present in the region since 1919, the well-being of its employees, their families and community is a fundamental value of the Company.
Today, the Temiscaming site includes three main operations that manufacture the following products: high purity cellulose, high-yield pulp and coated cardboard.
Several chemicals are used in the manufacture of these products, some of which are subject to the Environmental Emergency Regulations (EER) of Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Temiscaming site, therefore, adopted an emergency measures plan in 2004 to manage this type of situation. The Temiscaming site also has an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system.
The Environmental Emergency Regulations require that we communicate to members of the public who may be harmed as a result of an environmental emergency:
- the potential consequences of the emergency;
- the measures that the site will take to protect the environment and human life or health;
- how the site will communicate with the public.
A major industrial accident is an unexpected and sudden event occurring in an industrial establishment or site, consequences of which extend beyond the boundaries of the site. The nature and quantity of products involved determine potential impacts on humans and the environment.
There has been no major industrial accident involving sulphur dioxide (SO2) or ammonia (NH3) in the last 15 years.
In order to prepare its emergency measures manual, a list of possible major industrial accident scenarios has been drawn up. The scenario with the highest level of risk was then simulated with a mathematical model of atmospheric dispersion. The model was carried out following the recommendations of the Council for the Reduction of Major Industrial Accidents (CRAIM). Different scenarios were modeled in 2004. In 2020, the scenarios concerning a major sulfur dioxide (SO2) and aqua-ammonia (NH3) leak were redone according to the updated CRAIM standards.
What are our security measures in place to avoid an environmental emergency?
Safety is a fundamental value for RYAM. By focusing on prevention, training and preparation of emergency personnel, the Company makes every effort to prevent accidents that could affect its employees, the community and the environment.
Main infrastructure safety mechanisms
- Indoor and outdoor detection systems and alarm systems, supervised at all times
- Automatic shut-off system in case of leak (liquid SO2 line)
- Tank and valve inspection and preventive maintenance systems
- Retention dike surrounding the ammonia tank
Main operational safety mechanisms
- A detection system calibration program
- Routine inspection program for at risk facilities
- Emergency Measures Plan in collaboration with local authorities
- Specialized Emergency Response Team (HAZMAT)
- Annual training and exercise program for responders
- Siren to notify citizens living near facilities
- Automated call system to notify members of the Municipal Civil Security Organization (OMSC) and local institutions
Our Emergency Response Team
The Temiscaming site has its own emergency response team (ERT). This team includes 15 members supported by the other eight members of the Temiscaming site fire brigade. Each member of the ERT team has received 40 hours of training dedicated to responding to hazardous materials (HAZMAT) at the technician level. Their training also includes industrial firefighters and rescue in confined spaces and at height. Five of the ERT members are also trained as HAZMAT commanding officers. The training of ERT members is reviewed every two to three years.
An automated alert system makes it possible to warn and quickly mobilize the ERT in the event of an incident, day and night, weeks and weekends.
ERT members have the necessary equipment to quickly respond to a major leak of a hazardous material, such as chemical resistant coveralls and self-contained breathing systems. ERT also has its own emergency vehicle.
The ERT meets monthly to review its practices, whether it is the management of a hazardous material leak, the search and rescue of people, the fight against fires, or to check their equipment. One hundred and forty hours per year are dedicated to these monthly practices.
Our Emergency Manual
The Temiscaming site has an emergency manual which includes the following elements:
- Description of its facilities
- The management structure in case of an emergency
- The responsibilities of the members of the Emergency response Coordination Center, the Emergency response Operations Center and the Command Post
- The criteria for triggering alert levels
- General intervention procedures
- Public alert mechanisms
- The characteristics of hazardous substances on site
The emergency manual also includes an emergency response plan (ERP) which presents the essential information of the manual to emergency responders. The plan is tested every year. It is also updated annually. A copy of this update is being distributed to the fire chief of the city of Temiscaming and to the regional section of Civil Security of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
Members of the Emergency response Coordination Center receive training in their first year of employment on the ERP and their responsibilities within it. The training is reviewed every three to five years.
How will I be advised of an environmental emergency?
Residents near the Temiscaming site will be alerted by the sound of the siren (not to be confused with sectoral evacuation alarms intended for employees). The authorities and institutions of Temiscaming (such as the hospital, schools and the childcare center) will be notified by the RYAM automated call system. Other citizens will be notified by local authorities.
The city of Temiscaming and the municipality of Kipawa recently set up an automated text message and email alert system to notify their citizens of an emergency.
The citizens of Thorne and Eldee will be notified by the Department of Emergency Management Ontario.
It should be noted that tests to ensure proper operation of the siren are performed monthly. Tests are also done once a week to verify the RYAM automated calling system.
Please contact the municipality of Kipawa for more information on and to register for their automated alerts.
What to do in case of an alert?
- Quickly enter the nearest building.
- Avoid breathing harmful products.
- Do not stay outside or in a vehicle.
- Close and caulk doors, windows and ventilation and move away from them.
- Follow instructions given by the authorities.
- Stay together.
- Refer to the means of communication of your municipality/authorities in your region.
- To obtain a status on the situation at a moment in time, you may also contact the information number set up by RYAM (Temiscaming): 1-844-770-9272 (information message).
- Do not pick up your children from school or daycare so as not to expose yourself or your children.
- These establishments will have already been notified and will have received required safety instructions.
Free up the phone lines for emergencies so they can get organized.
- When the danger has been averted, the end of the alert will be issued by local authorities.
What are the hazardous substances on the Temiscaming site that could cause an environmental emergency?
Three substances have been modeled for their impact off site under the Environmental Emergency Regulations: sulfur dioxide, aqua-ammonia and sodium chlorate. There are other hazardous substances on the site, but these are not present in large enough quantities to have an impact outside the site or are already the subject of an emergency response plan under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations.
Of these three substances, only sulfur dioxide and aqua-ammonia may have consequences for members of the public according to the CRAIM criteria.
What is sulphur dioxide (SO2)?
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is used in the manufacturing of wood fibre cooking acid (to dissolve lignin and recover cellulose).
- It is received in liquid form by railcar.
- It is stored under pressure as a liquid in outdoor tanks.
- When released, it evaporates into the air as a colorless gas with a strong, pungent odor.
- It is heavier than air and non-flammable.
What is aqua-ammonia (NH3) ?
- Aqua-ammonia (NH3) is used in the same process as sulfur dioxide (SO2) for the manufacture of cooking acid. It is also used to absorb sulfur dioxide in flue gases before they are released to the atmosphere and as a nutrient in wastewater treatment plant.
- It is manufactured on site from anhydrous ammonia discharged from a railcar. The typical concentration in the solution varies between 22 and 24%.
- It is stored in a tank surrounded by a retention dike.
- When released, it evaporates into the air as ammonia, a colorless gas with a pungent odor.
- This gas is lighter than air.
What is sodium chlorate ?
- Sodium chlorate is used to make chlorine dioxide, which is used in pulp bleaching.
- It is received in crystalline form in a tanker.
- It is diluted in water and stored in solution in three tanks located inside the plant.
- It is an oxidizing substance, which can easily ignite when in solid form or explode if subjected to shock.
What are possible repercussions related to a major leak of these substances on the public?
What is sulphur dioxide (SO2)
The gas can travel to communities within a radius of 10.8 km of the facility. The sulphur dioxide cloud will follow the wind’s direction. In all circumstances, concentrations decline rapidly as one moves away from the plant. The population may be more or less inconvenienced depending on age and health.
Anticipated impacts on water and soil are negligible. For animals, impacts would be similar to those anticipated for humans. Vegetation could, however, be subject to burning effects.
Potential health effects of the sulphur dioxide depending on exposition area:
Zone 1 – distance of 1,6 km (in red)
- Respiratory distress
- Severe eye, skin, nose and throat irritation
- Potentially life-threatening
Zone 2 – distance of 10,8 km (in yellow)
- Difficulty breathing
- Eye, skin, nose and throat irritation'
For aqua-ammonia (NH3)
Aqua-ammonia will volatilize into ammonia gas. Ammonia gas can travel to communities within a radius of approximately 300 meters from the facility. The ammonia cloud will follow the direction of the wind. The population that would be in the exposure area may be more or less inconvenienced depending on their age and state of health.
The anticipated impacts on the ground are negligible. For animals, the impacts would be similar to those expected in humans. Vegetation could however suffer from burning effects. In the presence of water, ammonia can form an aqua-ammonia solution, which may be harmful to aquatic organisms.
Outside the site (zone 2 in yellow for a distance of 0.3 km), NH3 can have the following potential health impacts (severity of symptoms may vary depending on the conditions of exposure)
- Headaches, nausea and vomiting
- Burning sensation in nose and throat, coughing and difficulty breathing
- Irritating and corrosive product for skin, eyes, respiratory and digestive tracts
For sodium chlorate?
An explosion related to the unloading and storage of sodium chlorate would not have major repercussions outside the Temiscaming site.
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