Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pipeline blast cuts natural gas service

ST. PIERRE-JOLYS, Man.—Tanker trucks yesterday carried emergency supplies of compressed natural gas to heat critical locations in southern Manitoba as thousands of residents have to contend with no heat.
The residents have been told a pipeline explosion on Saturday means they could have to spend several days in frigid temperatures without fuel to heat their homes.

Natural gas service for an estimated 4,000 people in municipalities south of Winnipeg was interrupted following a huge explosion at a TransCanada Pipelines valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys.
The explosion prevented the company from supplying natural gas to Manitoba Hydro, which informed customers Saturday that service could be off for at least a day.
Manitoba Hydro said TransCanada still can’t provide an estimate of when gas would begin flowing again, and warned people through messages on its website to “prepare themselves for an outage that could last several days.”
To top it off, the temperature in the region was below minus-20 C and many highways were closed due to blowing snow.
Heather Chambers Ewen, a spokesperson for the Rural Municipality of Hanover, said many people were staying home or going to stay with friends or family rather than venturing out to community warming centres.
“Quite frankly, it’s pretty white,” Chambers Ewen said as she looked out the window of the municipality’s emergency operations centre.
“I can’t see the other side of the highway.”
TransCanada said in a news release yesterday that it is working with Manitoba Hydro to restore natural gas service as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, TransCanada said it and Manitoba Hydro were trucking limited supplies of natural gas to critical locations identified by the Provincial Emergency Measures Organization, such as the De Salaberry Health Centre in St. Pierre-Jolys and the Heritage Life Personal Care Home in Niverville.
TransCanada noted that “extreme winter weather” was making things difficult, but that it still was mobilizing people and heavy equipment to the site.
It said it would begin repairs as soon as possible, pending approval from the Transportation Safety Board and the National Energy Board.
There were no reports of injuries from the blast, which sent a massive fireball into the night sky and forced the evacuation of several nearby roads.
Crews isolated the line, and the flames were extinguished by Saturday afternoon.
RCMP said the cause of the explosion is not suspicious.
Residents who were evacuated have been allowed to return home.

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