Manitoba minister calls for new federal rules after pipeline explosion
WINNIPEG (CP) - The federal government must do more to prevent explosions of natural gas pipelines that cross the country, says a Manitoba government minister.
"Although, at this time, the cause of Sunday night's explosion is undetermined, one of the long-standing safety concerns regarding pipelines is the impact of corrosion," Government Services Minister Steve Ashton said Tuesday. "It is critical that the federal government work with natural gas companies to identify stress corrosion cracking and ways to address this serious concern."
A huge explosion and fire forced about 100 residents of Brookdale, Man., and the surrounding area in southwestern Manitoba from their homes late Sunday night.
No one was injured. Most had returned by Monday night, the remaining families were expected to return by Tuesday night.
Stress corrosion refers to the formation of hairline cracks in the outer walls of the pipe from a combination of stress caused by gas flowing through the pipe, brittleness of the pipe wall and corrosive elements within the soil. It was blamed for a 1995 pipeline explosion at Rapid City, which is about 50 kilometres west of Brookdale where Sunday's explosion occurred.
"Over the last number of years, there have been a number of natural gas pipeline explosions across the country," Ashton said.
"My concern is that the latest federal initiative will not go far enough to ensure that similar incidents don't occur in the future."
Ashton said the federal response so far appears to be largely an information gathering process that will take two years to complete.
"We are requesting that the federal government review and build upon the measures currently in place to ensure the safety of pipelines."
Officials of TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. said the Brookdale section of the pipeline was last inspected in 1998 and inspectors reassessed the findings in 2000.
The explosion sent what witnesses described as "great balls of flame" into the air that could be seen 150 kilometres away. It left a crater in the ground about 100 metres long and 25 metres wide.
The blast left many in the neighbourhood shaken.
"I must have jumped two feet in my bed," said Grant Jardine, who lives four kilometres from the explosion site.
Despite the experience, he said he has no plans to move and has lived near the pipeline for 40 years.
Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press