Loading articles...

Enbridge pipeline ruptures, sparks fire near Prince George, B.C.

Last Updated Oct 10, 2018 at 5:22 am EDT

A pipeline that ruptured and sparked a massive fire north of Prince George, B.C., is shown in this photo provided by Dhruv Desai. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dhruv Desai

About 100 members of a First Nation community in northern British Columbia were evacuated from their homes Tuesday evening after a gas pipeline ruptured, sparking a massive blaze.

The rupture happened on a natural gas transmission pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge about 13.5 kilometres from Prince George on Tuesday evening, Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said in an emailed statement.

It ignited at the site, which is in a rural area. There are no reports of injuries, he said.

“Enbridge emergency crews have responded, have isolated and are currently depressurizing two natural gas transmission lines in the vicinity to contain the incident,” he said. “The incident area has been cordoned off to maintain public safety.”

The evacuees largely belonged to the nearby Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and were asked to leave their homes as a precaution, he said.

“Enbridge is working with area communities to ensure public safety,” he said.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment said it had been notified of the incident Shelley, B.C., and involved an 900 PSI pipeline.

Prince George resident Dhruv Desai said he was driving up a hill toward the nearby University of Northern British Columbia when he noticed several cars had pulled off the road taking photos of something.

He pulled over as well and snapped his own shots of a massive blaze.

“I was able to see it very clearly from the hill,” he said. “It was huge even from this distance.”

Meanwhile, National Energy Board spokesman Tom Neufeld said the fire was along Enbridge’s Westcoast main line, which falls under the board’s jurisdiction.

The Westcoast Transmission System transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

“NEB inspectors have been deployed to this area. They’re going to monitor and oversee the company’s response to the incident, and they’re going to determine the impact and extend of the fire and release,” Neufeld said.

The NEB has also activated its emergency operations centre in Calgary, he said.

It will work closely with the Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating the incident, Neufeld said.

Join the conversation

Please read our commenting policies

What really worries me is how the physics of the incident is portrayed. It’s not the pounds per square inch (PSI) that’s important. It’s the flow volume (cubic meters per time unit) which should then be related to a common standard of cost, such as cents per cubic meter, for example, 10¢/m^3, which your readers will understand because that is how they pay their gas bill. For example, a burning pinhole leak at 900 PSI might make a flame about a foot long, but a burning pipeline leak such as shown here, would produce the flame seen. A pinhole leak would cost a couple dollars per year, whereas this leak shown here would cost several million dollars per hour or more.

One final remark: while an uncontrolled and burning gas leak is dangerous due to the heat and emissions effects, an uncontrolled NOT-burning gas leak (especially of this size) can go beyond dangerous to the point of being a major earth-life event after hours of leaking unburnt gas, should it suddenly detonate or even cause wide-spread conflagration. And yes, there is a difference between conflagration and detonation.

October 10, 2018 at 2:31 am

Do NOT trust anything that Enbridge says. At the spill in Kalamazoo, they did not disclose that it was bitumen which had leaked..”In July 2016, Enbridge agreed to pay $177 million in penalties and improved safety measures in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency”. Their conduct was likened to the Keystone Cops. I have personal experience with Enbridge’s reluctance/refusal to put proper leak detection systems in place. If you live in Shelley, get out of there!

October 10, 2018 at 2:49 am