Differences between measured and reported volatile organic compound emissions from oil sands facilities in Alberta, Canada

Validation of volatile organic compound (VOC) emission reports, especially from large industrial facilities, is rarely attempted. Given uncertainties in emission reports, their evaluation and validation will build confidence in emission inventories. It is shown that a top-down approach can provide measurement-based emission rates for such emission validation. Comparisons with emission reports from Alberta oil sands surface mining facilities revealed significant differences in VOC emissions between top-down emissions rates and reports. Comparison with VOC species emission reports using currently accepted estimation methods indicates that emissions were underestimated in the reports for most species. This exercise shows that improvements in the accuracy and completeness of emissions estimates from complex facilities would enhance their application to assessing the impacts of such emissions.

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