CER approves Westcoast line to return to full operating pressure in its entirety

November 28, 2019

We expect our regulated companies to have zero spills or incidents.

If an incident does occur, our staff is ready to respond immediately to ensure people are safe. On October 9, 2018, a rupture and resulting fire, occurred on Westcoast’s NPS 36 (36 inch) natural gas pipeline approximately 13 km east of Prince George, B.C. CER (at the time NEB) 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.

In the days and first few weeks following the incident, CER environmental, safety and pipeline integrity staff were on site to oversee the company’s safe repair of the ruptured section of pipe, clean-up, and return to service at a reduced safe operating pressure as ordered by the CER.

Keeping the company accountable for demonstrating that the line that had ruptured could safely operate did not end there.

Over nearly the next 13 months, a 6 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. 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 Westcoast 36 inch line has been approved to return to full operating pressure in its entirety.

“What many people may not realize, is that our work continues long after the immediate threat of an incident has passed.” CER’s Chief Engineer, Iain Colquhoun, who played a key role in the team overseeing Westcoast’s return to full service, understands the importance of the rigorous oversight that happens following an incident affecting Canadian pipelines: “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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