An explosion and fire in a pipeline that provides natural gas to about 1.5 million customers in British Columbia, Washington state and OR has prompted a plea from energy companies to conserve fuel as Indigenous leaders called for assurances of safety.
Municipalities like Victoria and Saanich also turned the heat down in their facilities and the University of Victoria is taking it a step further - it shut off its natural gas completely and switched to a backup diesel system.
David Craig, executive director of the Commercial Energy Users Association, said there will be some natural gas in the system that can still be used, but depending on how long it takes to fix the rupture, he expects there may be widespread impacts to residential, business and industrial customers. "I thought it might have been a jet engine or a low-flying jet".
Island Health spokeswoman Meribeth Burton, Island hospitals should not be affected.
He said they have asked kitchens, which often leave gas running, to shut it down when it's not needed, watch overheating and ensuring water temperature isn't too high.
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"FortisBC is asking BCIT to urgently limit natural gas usage", read the message from the school. While the ruptured pipeline carries natural gas, chances are that anti-pipeline activists will waste no time in using the incident in their case against pipeline.
Edge said Fortis estimates 75 per cent of new homes are built with natural gas heating.
This includes turning off thermostats and limiting other uses of natural gas as much as possible.
The institution sent an email to students last night warning that "building heating will be very limited on the north side of BCIT Burnaby Campus". "It's one of the ways of addressing the high cost of owning a home in Victoria".
According to B.C.'s Ministry of Environment, the incident occured at a gas line that is operated by Enbridge.
Investigators are still searching for a cause of the blast just outside Prince George.