Canadian Consulting Engineer

Fort McMurray infrastructure survives, but much rebuilding ahead

May 11, 2016

The devastating forest fire that engulfed parts of Fort McMurray last week has left about 90 per cent of the city still standing.

After touring the area on May 9, Alberta Premier Rachen Notley told media that all the schools, municipal buildings and the hospital were saved, and most of the infrastructure remains.

The following day she met with the heads of 15 oil sands operators and committed to getting their operations producing again as soon as possible.

Premier Notley first thanked the oil sands companies for their help during the fire, saying “Their role with the evacuation, temporary housing and then relocation of thousands of Albertans was essential. This work was happening while companies were also securing their own facilities and shutting in oil production.

The sites themselves are not in danger from the wildfire at this point, and according to the government, “no consequential damage was sustained by any oil sands facility or any other energy infrastructure.”

The biggest issue is getting staff back to work. After over 90,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray some oil sands operators closed their sites and were on skeleton crews. Media reports said roughly one million barrels of raw and upgraded bitumen was no longer flowing, representing about one-quarter of Canada’s total production.

In Fort McMurray itself there are large areas that have no power, no water, and no gas.  It’s estimated 2,400 buildings were damaged or destroyed, including homes in communities such as Beacon Hill.

The clean-up will be a huge remediation job, and some infrastructure will have to be rebuilt. For now people are barred from returning.

The forest fire outside the city continued to burn in the southwest and southeast. By Tuesday it had grown to near 230,000 hectares.

To read a Canadian Press report, click here.

To read a Globe and Mail report of May 10, click here.



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