A B.C. paper mill that had its supply of natural gas cut off during the rupture of an Enbridge pipeline more than two years ago is suing for damages.
On Oct. 9, 2018, a 36-inch natural gas transmission pipeline owned by Enbridge and operated by Westcoast Energy exploded near Prince George. No injuries were reported but dozens of homes within a two-kilometre radius of the explosion were evacuated and the rupture led to a natural gas shortage during the winter in B.C.
Catalyst Paper Corp. and Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corp., which owned and operated the paper mill near Prince George, have filed a lawsuit naming Enbridge and Westcoast Energy as defendants.
The plaintiffs say that on the day of the explosion, Fortis B.C., which delivers natural gas and electricity to customers in B.C., advised that the gas supply to the mill may be curtailed.
The following day, Fortis B.C. asked that the mill’s gas consumption be stopped entirely and the mill did an expedited shutdown, says the suit.
On Oct. 11, 2018, Enbridge resumed operation of an undamaged 30-inch pipeline to 80 per cent of its capacity and Fortis B.C. advised the mill that they could resume a restricted natural gas consumption, which limited production at the mill, it says.
Enbridge announced on Oct. 31 that repairs were completed on the 36-inch transmission pipeline and began a process to return the line to service and during the week of Dec. 10, 2018, restrictions were removed and regular gas usage was returned to the mill, says the lawsuit.
“The operations of the paper mill were significantly affected by the catastrophic failure and rupture,” says the suit.
The plaintiffs claim that the rupture was caused by the negligence of the defendants and are seeking unspecified general and special damages.
In a statement, Enbridge said it had learned much from the 2018 incident and had completed a comprehensive review of its natural gas pipeline system in B.C. in order to prevent similar incidents and significantly improve safety.
“This is the most aggressive integrity program ever undertaken by Enbridge on its pipeline system in B.C.,” said the company, adding that it was aware of the litigation but would not be commenting on continuing legal proceedings.
In March, the Transportation Safety Board announced that an investigation had determined the cause of the explosion to be stress corrosion cracking on the outside surface of the pipeline.