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U.S. Enbridge pipeline explosion hits close to home for Lheidli T'enneh

Enbridge explosion in Kentucky leaves one dead, five injured and five to seven people unaccounted for
Chief of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, Clay Pountney, looks on as a lawsuit against Enbridge is announced. (via Jess Fedigan)

A pipeline incident down south has brought back dark memories for members of the Lheidli T'enneh after an identical explosion happened near Prince George last October. 

An Enbridge pipeline exploded yesterday (Aug. 1) in Junction City, Kentucky that has left one person dead, five injured, and up to seven still unaccounted for.

The events hit very close to home for Lheidli T'enneh First Nation Chief Clay Pountney and members, who sent thoughts and prayers on behalf of all of its members. 

Oct. 9, 2018 was when a pipeline also owned and operated by Enbridge ruptured near Prince George, which caused a massive explosion near the Lheidli T’enneh neighborhood of Northside.

While nobody was injured in the incident, it has left members who live in Northside with intense anxiety and dark memories. 

“Today’s (Aug. 1) pipeline explosion in Kentucky has brought back many dark memories for some of our members who are still dealing with the impacts of last October’s explosion near our Northside neighbourhood," Chief Pountney says in a release. "Today’s incident also raises additional questions about the integrity of older pipelines across North America and just how safe they are. Our lawsuit launched against Enbridge in late February this year was based on the poor response by Enbridge to the impacts of the explosion on our territory and around the question about how safe is the rest of their pipelines that run through our territory. Today’s unfortunate incident in Kentucky has only given us more resolve to pursue these matters through the courts.”

IMG_51715452253523254543Lawyer Malcolm Macpherson speaks of the reasons for the Lheidli T'enneh First Nations lawsuit. (via Jess Fedigan)

In February of this year, the Lheidli T'enneh announced they were suing Enbridge. The lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court. 

They are seeking a pre-trial injunction restraining the defendants (Enbridge), their servants, agents or otherwise from operating the pipeline within the LFTN territory and reserves and also seeking to have the pipeline immediately dismantled and removed from the LTFN territory and reserve and lands to be restored to their natural state. 

The complete list of relief being sought is as follows: 

  1. A pre-trial injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents or otherwise from operating the pipeline within the Lheidli T'enneh territory and resources
  2. A permanent injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents or otherwise from operating the pipeline within the Lheidli T'enneh territory and reserves 
  3. A mandatory injunction requiring the defendants to immediately dismantle and remove the pipeline from the Lheidli T'enneh territory and reserves and restore the Lheidli T'enneh and to their natural states
  4. Damages for nuisance, trespass, and negligence
  5. Special damages 
  6. A declaration that the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation has never been consulted or alternatively, adequately consulted with respect to the construction, operation, repair or return to service of the pipeline
  7. Equitable compensation 
  8. Punitive damages
  9. Aggravated, or in the alternative, exemplary damages
  10. Interest pursuant to the Court Order Interest Act, R.S.B.C 2996, c.79 as amended
  11. Special costs
  12. Such further and other relief as the Honourable Court deems just

The latest statement from Enbridge has been provided to PrinceGeorgeMatters. 

"At Enbridge, safety is our number one priority. We operate a safe and reliable natural gas pipeline system.

Following the Shelley pipeline incident in British Columbia (B.C.) on October 9, 2018, Enbridge took a series of decisive steps to further validate and improve the safety of our natural gas pipeline system in the province. These steps are part of an improved approach to pipeline safety and an ongoing commitment to continually improve the safety of our pipeline system.


                  Pipeline pressure reductions

  • We lowered the operating pressure of the natural gas pipeline system in B.C. to create an extra margin of safety.
  • With that extra margin of safety in place, we began detailed, system-wide engineering assessments and inspections to further validate the safety of the pipeline system.

                  Pipeline inspections

  • We began system-wide pipeline inspections using high-tech tools run inside the pipeline, that use leading image and sensor technology, to detect potential problems like stress corrosion cracking. These inline pipeline inspections where completed in July 2019.
  • Complementing this work, we excavated sections of pipe to perform additional inspections. By November 2019, we will have nearly doubled the number of dig inspections undertaken in a typical maintenance year.
  • This work goes well beyond the industry standard in terms of comprehensiveness.

                Integrity program evaluation and improvements

  • We began an intensive assessment of our integrity program to identify areas of improvement and to implement those improvements.
  • We hired a leading independent pipeline risk management company to assist with that work and provide additional expertise.
  • While this evaluation work is ongoing, we’ve identified several changes we’re making, including conducting pipeline inspections more frequently using inspection tools that undertake more detailed and thorough pipe examinations, as well as improved screening criteria to evaluate and schedule maintenance work.

Enbridge has implemented several measures to further improve pipeline safety, including undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the entire T-South system with a particular focus on implementing improved screening criteria to evaluate and schedule maintenance work. This involves a more conservative approach to identify areas that may require maintenance earlier. These measures are part of an ongoing commitment to safety to help make a safe pipeline system even safer.

At Enbridge, no incident is acceptable – ever. When an incident does occur, we take quick and decisive action. Our goal is to continually improve the safety of our pipeline systems by making effective changes to do just that."


"Enbridge is committed to working with the Chief and Council of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation to build a positive and mutually-beneficial relationship. 

As a general practice, we do not comment on matters that are in litigation.

We are committed to working with the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation to discuss ways in which we can foster a strengthened relationship built on our shared priorities of safety, environmental protection and economic development.

Our natural gas pipeline system in British Columbia is a critical piece of energy infrastructure that has been operating safely for more than 60 years. Throughout that time, we have maintained strong relationships with many Indigenous communities near our pipeline system. We are always interested in strengthening our relationships with Indigenous communities, including the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation."

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