A press release sent out by Pacific Northern Gas states the company has fixed the broken natural gas pipeline 20 kilometres outside of Prince Rupert and is now restoring service to its customers.
“It is expected all customers will be reactivated by Wednesday evening,” states the press release. It says workers have already reactivated service at the hospital and senior’s homes, and are now going door-to-door to turn the gas on at residences. (Read the full press release here.)
Greg Weeres, the vice president of operations & engineering for Pacific Northern Gas (PNG), said the gas outage was caused by a “debris flow” that damaged an eight-inch gas line about 20 kilomtres east of Prince Rupert, on the north side of Prudhomme Lake. He said all PNG customers in Rupert and Port Edward were affected by the outage. Asked if a debris flow was similar to a landslide or mudslide, he replied, “I don’t know what to call it because it’s a variety of different things.”
“We’re working just as quickly as we can to start the reactivation process and get everyone back online,” said Weeres. He said there were “challenging logistics” to the repair work because there is no road access, and workers must go to the site by helicopter. On top of that, he said PNG is trucking in natural gas, feeding it into one of its substations just outside of town.
This is not the first time Mother Nature has severed the only natural gas line into Rupert. In 2003, a landslide near the Khyex River plowed through the PNG gas line that runs across the Northwest from Prince George to Prince Rupert, leaving residents without natrual-gas heat for over a week. Coincidentally, the power outage that caused Prince Rupert to go without power for most of the day Sunday was caused by a tree falling on a transmission line near the Khyex River.
Meeres, who worked with PNG during the Khyex River slide, said the logistics are similar in this case, because there are no roads out to the breakage. But he said he’s optimistic this outage won’t look anything like the outage in 2003.
~Written by Chris Armstrong