On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (LTFN) will livestream on social media a news conference to share new information concerning its civil lawsuit against Enbridge over the October 2018 natural gas pipeline explosion that rocked the First Nation’s Northside subdivision 20 kilometres northeast of Prince George.
Nobody was injured in the explosion on Oct. 9, 2018, but it shook buildings and frightened nearby residents, forcing the evacuation of 125 people within a two-kilometre vicinity of the ruptured pipeline while crews worked to extinguish the large fireball and seal the pipeline.
The line supplies much of southern B.C. with natural gas and the rupture led to temporary shortages.
In its suit filed Feb. 27, 2019, Lheidli T’enneh is seeking damages from Enbridge and wants the court to force the Calgary-based to remove its pipelines from the First Nation’s unceded ancestral lands.
In March 2019, Enbridge met with the Lheidli T’enneh band council and proposed an out-of-court settlement, which was rejected. The First Nation stated the offer was “disrespectful, pitiful, and failed to provide required safety assurances to the community.” Lheidli T’enneh also pledged to meet with its Indigenous neighbours to share concerns about Enbridge’s ability to safely transport hydrocarbons through reserves and Indigenous territories.
In November 2020, Enbridge subsidiary Westcoast Energy was fined $40,000 after an investigation by the Canada Energy Regulator determined the company did not adequately implement a stress corrosion monitoring system that would have identified the problem section of pipe before the explosion occurred.
The Transportation Safety Board, in its final report issued in March, said the 90-centimetre-wide pipeline ruptured due to stress corrosion cracks on the outer surface of the pipe. The board said Westcoast Energy did not follow its own technical assessment procedures and approvals before it decided to defer an inspection which might have prevented the blast.
Tuesday’s meeting in downtown Prince George at the House of Ancestors, 355 Vancouver St., will shed light on an innovative action LTFN says it will take “in pursuit of justice and human safety in this matter, and its desire to remain safe in the community given Enbridge’s ongoing safety failings.”
The news conference will be webcast on the Lheidli T’enneh First Nations’ Facebook page. The meeting will follow COVID-19 safety protocols as outlined by the provincial health office.