None Injured in BC Pipeline Explosion
A pipeline explosion on Tuesday (Oct. 9), near Shelley, British Columbia, caused the shutdown of one of two gas pipelines owned by energy giant Enbridge. No injuries or fatalities associated with the incident have been reported, and an investigation as to the cause is still underway.
According to CBC News, the 30-inch pipeline was closed down as a precaution after the larger 36-inch pipeline exploded at around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
At the time of the incident, an upsurge of flame could be seen from miles around. Residents said the explosion sounded like thunder. Nearby homes were evacuated, but residents were allowed to return two hours later.
Chief Dominic Frederick, of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, noted that Enbridge contacted him after the explosion. Frederick said he was told that gas was building up underground. “For some reason or another the gas had stopped flowing and it built up and it just exploded.”
On the heels of the explosion, natural gas supplier FortisBC asked 1 million customers to limit gas use until the issue could be resolved. Roughly 700,000 homes in northern B.C., the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island ran the risk of losing gas service completely.
Enbridge’s British Columbia pipeline runs 1,751 miles, from northern B.C. to the south of Vancouver, transporting about 60 percent of the natural gas produced in the province and supplying natural gas for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Doug Stout, FortisBC’s vice president of external relations, told the Vancouver Sun that 85 percent of the gas the company feeds to residences and businesses is carried by the twin pipeline.
National Energy Board spokesperson Tom Neufeld noted that the incident occurred along Enbridge’s Westcoast main line, which falls under the agency’s jurisdiction. According to The Star Vancouver, the Westcoast Transmission System carries natural gas from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to customers in British Columbia, other provinces and states in the U.S.
Neufeld also said that inspectors were now in the area. From here, they will monitor Enbridge’s response to the incident as well as determine the extent of the damage.
After extensive evaluation, service to the pipeline was restored to 80 percent capacity as of Thursday (Oct. 11).