A massive explosion and fire occurred at a TransCanada Pipeline valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys in the Canadian province of Manitoba early in the morning on Saturday January 25. Local citizens were evacuated immediately after the blast and nearby roads were closed. Flames from the fireball shot 200 to 300 meters into the air and although the fire was extinguished by Saturday afternoon, thousands of citizens are without heating. Natural gas provides essential heating to areas that are enduring extreme cold temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius in addition to whiteout conditions due to blowing snow.
Tanker trucks are carrying limited supplies of natural gas to vital institutions in areas that have been effected by the explosion. This trucked in gas will only go to health care centers and personal care facilities. According to local natural gas services a total of around four thousand people in municipalities south of Winnipeg.
Although no injuries have been reported, the explosion denied natural gas to Manitoba Hydro, and it could keep citizens without heating for days.
This is but the latest in a seemingly endless string of ruptures of fossil fuel carrying pipelines. TransCanada, the company that owns the pipelines has been actively selling the benefits of the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline which would transport tar sands bitumen to refineries in Texas.
This past week the southern leg of the Keystone XL began operations amid concerns about the dangers of the pipeline. There have been a number of documented anomalies in the pipeline including faulty welds and dents. Even the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has cited construction problems in two warning letters sent to TransCanada in September.
CEO Russ Girling called Keystone XL “the safest oil pipeline built in America to date.” As of November, consumer rights group Public Citizen, said that TransCanada had already fixed 125 sags and dents in the southern leg of the pipeline.
Even the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has cited construction problems in two warning letters sent to TransCanada in September.
© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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