Pipe­line de­bris be­ing cleared from B.C. ex­plo­sion site

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS -

Van­cou­ver — Trans­porta­tion Safety Board in­ves­ti­ga­tors plan to re­move pipe­line wreck­age de­bris from an ex­plo­sion site near Prince Ge­orge, B.C., while the province’s ma­jor nat­u­ral gas sup­plier asked in­dus­trial users Fri­day to con­tinue to con­serve nat­u­ral gas.

The ex­plo­sion Tues­day in the un­der­ground En­bridge pipe­line tem­po­rar­ily shut down two nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines. One of the pipe­lines was cleared to start ship­ping gas late Wed­nes­day but on a re­duced ba­sis, forc­ing res­i­dents and in­dus­trial cus­tomers of For­tisbc to turn down the heat and cut back on pro­duc­tion.

“On Thurs­day ... some in­dus­trial cus­tomers be­gan be­ing brought back onto the sys­tem with a re­duced amount of nat­u­ral gas,” said Doug Stout, a spokesman for For­tisbc in a state­ment. “This process will con­tinue through the week­end and in­cludes large, multi-fam­ily high-rises.”

About 85 per cent of the gas For­tisbc feeds to its one mil­lion B.C. cus­tomers is car­ried by the twinned En­bridge pipe­line that runs from north­ern B.C. to the United States bor­der south of Van­cou­ver, Stout said.

About 750,000 nat­u­ral gas cus­tomers in the north­west U.S. were also im­pacted by the ex­plo­sion.

The blast knocked out En­bridge’s 91-cen­time­tre line, but the com­pany’s 76-cen­time­tre pipe­line near the dam­age site is sup­ply­ing a re­duced amount of nat­u­ral gas, Stout said.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts of our cus­tomers to limit their use of nat­u­ral gas at this time,” said Stout.

He said the gas flow is at about 40 per cent of nor­mal ca­pac­ity while En­bridge makes re­pairs to its sys­tem.

The Trans­porta­tion Safety Board said in a state­ment Fri­day its in­ves­ti­ga­tors have con­ducted a de­tailed site sur­vey of the ex­plo­sion area.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors will also se­cure and re­move the pipe­line wreck­age and ex­am­ine the pipe­line’s op­er­at­ing his­tory and in­spec­tions, the state­ment said.

En­bridge records in­di­cate the last in­spec­tion on the pipe­line was con­ducted by the com­pany last year, Iain Colquhoun, the Na­tional En­ergy Board’s chief en­gi­neer, said Thurs­day.

He said ini­tial re­views of the in­spec­tion re­ports did not show “wor­ri­some anom­alies in the line.”

The safety board said it has ap­pointed pipe­line ex­pert Jen­nifer Philopou­los to lead its ex­plo­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Philopou­los has 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the oil and gas in­dus­try.

The RCMP said Thurs­day there is no in­di­ca­tion the pipe­line rup­ture and en­su­ing fire­ball in­volved crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. There were no re­ports of in­juries.

The sup­ply dis­rup­tion saw ma­jor in­dus­tries and in­sti­tu­tions switch en­ergy sources, re­duce op­er­a­tions or shut down tem­po­rar­ily.

Gaso­line prices also started to in­crease as nearby oil re­finer­ies in the United States moved to con­serve the nat­u­ral gas it uses to fuel its op­er­a­tions.

Tolko In­dus­tries Ltd. closed its Hef­fley Creek ply­wood plant near Kam­loops and re­duced op­er­a­tions at sawmills in the Cari­boo at Ques­nel and Soda Creek.

The Uni­ver­sity of Vic­to­ria said it switched to diesel power, while Thomp­son Rivers Uni­ver­sity in Kam­loops turned down ther­mostats and lim­ited use of fans to con­serve nat­u­ral gas.

Sur­rey’s school dis­trict spokesman Doug Stra­chan said it re­quested a dis­trict-wide con­ser­va­tion ef­fort.

“As one of the larger con­sumers of nat­u­ral gas, Sur­rey schools is do­ing its part by ask­ing all dis­trict sites to im­me­di­ately turn down room ther­mostats and limit the use of hot wa­ter,” said Stra­chan in a state­ment. “For­tu­nately, there are sev­eral sunny days forecast, so this will help staff and stu­dents to re­main com­fort­able.”

A one-kilo­me­tre se­cu­rity zone re­mains up around the ex­plo­sion site.

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