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Metro Vancouver issues air quality bulletin after noxious smell triggers complaints

VANCOUVER — Officials in Metro Vancouver fielded about 100 complaints about a putrid smell permeating British Columbia's Lower Mainland on Sunday, prompting the regional federation of municipalities to issue an air quality bulletin for the area.

It said an incident at Burnaby's Parkland fuel refinery caused the "strong chemical odour" around the region and enforcement officers were sent to the site to make sure Parkland was complying with it's emissions permit. Metro Vancouver is responsible for issuing air emissions permits and environmental regulation.

Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry said the odour was tied to the "hydro carbon industrial event" from the refinery in neighbouring Burnaby.

She said Burnaby fire crews were on scene at the refinery, but the "strong odour" was "persisting and forced the City of Vancouver to issue a public safety advisory across the area.

Fry said Burnaby was monitoring air quality, and Vancouver's public safety advisory urged residents to close their windows if they smell anything or move indoors "out of an abundance of caution."

Burnaby's Parkland refinery issued an advisory Friday about an "elevated flare" burn-off because of "extreme weather conditions."

The advisory says people who live near the refinery may notice noise and "higher than usual flare" from the facility.

It said the refinery notified regulators of the flare event and would be following safety and environment protocols.

The City of Burnaby said in a news release that the "industrial incident" happened around 7:30 in the morning, and fire crews set up a perimeter around the facility.

The city's fire department found "no immediate concerns related to the safety of citizens," but advised people to close windows or move indoors if they smelled the odour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2024

The Canadian Press