​Northeast B.C. gas pipeline cleared to return to full operating pressure, 13 months after blast

Image: Enbridge

The Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) has approved a natural gas pipeline in Northeast B.C. that ruptured causing fire last fall to return to full operating pressure, the regulator said on Thursday.

The incident occurred on October 9, 2018 on Westcoast Energy’s 36-inch natural gas pipeline approximately 13 kilometres east of Prince George, B.C.

The CER said its staff were quickly on site as part of a coordinated response that involved the company, first responders, municipal and provincial agencies, and representatives from the nearby Lheidli T’enneh community.

“Over nearly the next 13 months, a six-member team of pipeline integrity specialists and engineers analyzed and verified data submitted by the company to show that each of the 12 segments was safe to return to full operating pressure,” the CER said.

“This rigorous assessment process involved multiple technical meetings with the company, field inspections to observe the company’s testing and analysis procedures, and other compliance verification activities to confirm the company’s integrity management program improvements implemented following the incident.”

Now, nearly 400 days after the incident, and with the last two remaining segments of the line cleared as safe to operate at maximum pressure, the line has been approved to return to full operating pressure in its entirety, the regulator said.

“What many people may not realize, is that our work continues long after the immediate threat of an incident has passed.” CER chief engineer Iain Colquhoun said a statement.

“Figuring out precisely why it happened, and what improvements need to be made to minimize the likelihood of it happening again is what matters as we continue to ensure companies prevent harm to people and protect our environment.”

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