Canadian Forest Service Publications

Biomonitoring forests near two sour gas processing plants. 1990. Maynard, D.G. Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, Alberta. Information Report NOR-X-311.

Year: 1990

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 11935

Language: English

Series: Information Report (NoFC - Edmonton)

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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Abstract

A biomonitoring study was carried out in 1981 and 1985 to assess the impact of gaseous and particulate sulfur (S) pollution from two sour gas processing plants on lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm.) forests in west-central Alberta. Past and present levels of S gas emissions have had little or no measurable effect on soils and vegetation in areas not contaminated with elemental S (S0), other than a possible elevation of S concentrations in the foliage at two sites within 6 km of the gas plants. At the sites heavily contaminated by S0, it is possible that sulfur dioxide may have had some impact; however, the overwhelming influence of S0 at these sites precluded any measurements. Significant impact of S0 was limited to areas contaminated with >5000 mg kg-1 of S0 (approximately 450 kg ha-1 of S0) in the LFH horizon, generally within 1 km of the S0 storage or handling facilities. Only the understory vegetation was affected in 1981; however, in 1985, at the most heavily contaminated site the pine exhibited considerably more needle loss than at any other site and little or no current-year growth. There was approximately 5 to 10 years from the time of initial deposition and oxidation of S0 until changes in the soil chemistry were observed followed by the manifestation of symptoms in pine. Damage to the vegetation as a result of S0 contamination occurred first in the moss, followed by the herb and shrub, and finally the tree layer.