UBC issues alert about potential natural gas shortage

The University of B.C. on Wednesday issued an “urgent community alert” asking the community to curtail non-essential use of natural gas following a pipeline rupture and fire in Northern B.C.

In the alert posted on its website, UBC says heat, hot water and cooking equipment are considered essential, but community members are asked to reduce their usage.

“Anyone using natural gas for other purposes, such as research, is asked to take steps immediately to stop that use,” UBC said.

The B.C. Institute of Technology also said it was taking measures to conserve natural gas by turning off the heat on the north side of the Burnaby campus, and asking students to dress warmly.

FortisBC has asked all customers to lower their thermostats and limit gas use while the damage is being repaired.

About 700,000 homes in Northern B.C., the Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island could temporarily lose gas service.

Fortis says it has reserves in the pipeline south of Prince George, and in tanks in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The company also noted late Wednesday that B.C. has responded well to the call for conservation.

The gas line ruptured Tuesday near the community of Shelley sending a massive fireball up into the sky. No one was hurt but about 100 people were told to leave their homes.

Meantime, Enbridge has restarted a smaller natural gas pipeline in running beside the damaged pipe.

Enbridge says it received National Energy Board approval Wednesday night to restart its 76-centimetre line, which was shut down as a precaution because it is in the same path as the 91-centimetre line that ruptured and exploded near Prince George.

The Calgary-based energy supplier says the line was carefully checked before permission was received to restart it at about 80 per cent of normal capacity.


With a file from Randy Shore and The Canadian Press

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