Monday, October 11, 2010

And then the blue flame flickered out

Prince Rupert residents who depend on natural gas once again are being asked to do without it, after a debris slide east of Prud'homme Lake caused enough damage to the gas lines to the west that service has had to be shut to Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

A customer service agent at PNG contacted on Monday morning could not provide an estimated time for a return of service for city residents, though she did advise that PNG crews are currently working on the situation with the hope of returning service to the region as soon as possible.

As the situation was discovered PNG's emergency maintenance plan was put in place with Industrial users losing their service on Sunday,  while commercial and residential users found that their pilot lights flickered out by Monday morning as the last of the gas flow was shut down.

This is just another of  the more memorable weather related outages to take place affecting the North coast, still fresh in local memories are incidents from  back in 2004 and in 2003   when service was affected, the latter a lengthy outage that almost lasted a week and resulted in the city's emergency service plan to be put into action. A time when the schools  were closed and those requiring emergency housing were offered alternative accommodations.

So far, there is no word on whether the amount of time to fix the current pipeline difficulties will require similar efforts, though in this instance it being early October, the temperature conditions aren't quite as severe as the December 2003 incident.

Still the picture regarding any impact on schools and commercial users will no doubt be made clear before the start of the workday on Tuesday.

So far the only public confirmation of the difficulties has come from a TV 7 report on Monday.

Update:  CHTK Radio updated the natural gas outage situation with the morning newscasts, advising that the gas pipeline had been repaired and that full service had been returned to the city, with Industrial users brought back on line on Monday, with PNG workers going through residential areas through Tuesday to ensure that all residents have service in place.

Mayor Jack Mussallem appeared on CBC's Daybreak program on Tuesday morning, providing his review of the weekend's storm related events, including confirmation that the repairs had been taken care of and that the schedule for re-lighting pilot lights will continue through the day. The Mayor also told the CBC of his tour of the city on Sunday morning, where he surveyed the damage, which in some areas was quite extensive.

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