December 17, 2018

Van. Island schools, municipalities, universities turn down thermostats after pipeline explosion

11 October 2018, 10:15 | Ross Houston

A large fire can be seen near Prince George B.C. on Oct. 9 2018

Prince George fire

The company that shut down its main natural gas pipeline through British Columbia following an explosion and fire Tuesday night says it has restarted a smaller line running beside the damaged pipe.

An explosion and fire in a pipeline that provides natural gas to about 1.5 million customers in British Columbia, Washington state and OR has prompted a plea from energy companies to conserve fuel as Indigenous leaders called for assurances of safety.

While the flames have been put out the two major gas pipelines remain out of service and Enbridge says it isn't sure when they will be back up and running.

The electricity and gas company said the line was carefully checked before it received permission to restart it at about 80 per cent of normal capacity.

Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes says the company is working to assess the situation and would have more information shortly.

As many as 700,000 customers in northern B.C., the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island could be directly affected by a shortage, he said. An adjacent 30-inch pipeline was also depressurized for safety.

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"But it may be at least one to two weeks".

"To me, it's just literally how vulnerable we are in that area", he said. The university still urges community members to limit or stop other usages of natural gas, such as those for research. Combined, they supply 85 per cent of all natural gas used province-wide.

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Homebuilders Association, said considering natural gas is the most affordable energy available, builders lean heavily toward building new homes that use it. "So we are asking everybody to chip in", said Stout.

Puget Sound Energy, a USA energy company, is also asking customers in Washington state to help conserve natural gas and electricity because of B.C.'s pipeline rupture and the impact it has on the US gas supply.

"Fortis BC, the local gas utility, is asking all customers, including UBC, to curtail non-essential use of natural gas", read a statement from UBC.

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