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Suncor Oil Sands operation, near where officials were seen taking samples for the Athabasca River, following a pipeline carrying industrial waste water ruptured, Tuesday, March, 26, 2013 in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Brett Gundlock/The Globe and Mail

An electrician working for Suncor Energy Inc. has been killed at one of the company's oil sands sites, the second fatality among the company's workforce this year.

Suncor said an employee was "severely injured while working" Sunday and the company's emergency service personnel responded at around 11:30 a.m. The employee was taken to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray and pronounced dead, Suncor said.

Authorities from the RCMP and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety are investigating.

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"An electrician was working in an area containing electrical panels when he collapsed," Barrie Harrison, a spokesman for OHS, said in an e-mail. OHS also confirmed the man was 27.

Suncor is working with the "appropriate authorities and will complete a full investigation into the cause of the incident," the company said. Suncor says it is protocol for the RCMP and OHS to investigate such incidents.

"This is devastating news and a tragic loss for family, friends and co-workers," Mark Little, Suncor's executive vice-president of its upstream operations, said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to loved ones during this extremely difficult time."

Suncor provided neither the employee's age nor gender, although OHS' Mr. Harrison said the deceased was male. The name of the individual, Suncor said, is not being released but the company has informed the employee's family. Suncor did not say where the incident occurred, how the employee was killed, or what the employee did.

OHS confirmed the employee was an electrician and the incident happened about 20 minutes north of Fort McMurray. Suncor has mining, upgrading, and steam-assisted gravity drainage operations in northern Alberta's oil sands region.

The area has been secured for the investigation, OHS' Mr. Harrison said. RMCP called the death "sudden."

"The Wood Buffalo RCMP responded to a sudden death at Suncor at 12:40 today," Constable Natasha Lytwenko said in an e-mail. "At this time the matter is still under investigation."

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There was one fatality in Alberta's oil sands industry in 2012, and another in 2011, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers' 2013 progress report. It is unclear whether this includes employees of contract companies working at oil-sands projects and companies who are not CAPP members.

Three people died at conventional oil and gas operations in Western Canada in 2012, the report said.

The death on Sunday is the second person killed at Suncor's operations in 2014. Jerry Cooper, a 40-year old man with 13 years experience at Suncor, was found dead in a pool of sand and water after a workplace incident in January. He was found "submerged" in soft ground at a sand dump.

The RCMP and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety investigated the case.

"We extend our sincere condolences to the family, friends and co-workers," Mr. Little said in a statement when Mr. Cooper's death was announced. "They are certainly in our thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time."

A Canadian subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned oil giant Sinopec in January, 2013, paid a record $1.5-million workplace violation fine for two deaths in 2007. The accident happened in April, 2007, as Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. built its Horizon oil-sands project. Two Chinese workers were struck and killed by falling steel. Five other employees were injured. Two of those had serious injuries. CNRL had contracted SSEC Canada Ltd. – a small arm of Sinopec – to work on Horizon.

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About the Author

Carrie Tait joined the Globe in January, 2011, mainly reporting on energy from the Calgary bureau. Previously, she spent six years working for the National Post in both Calgary and Toronto. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a bachelor’s degree in political studies from the University of Saskatchewan. More


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