Investigation into gas leak continues

Nelson Hydro is apologizing for the gas main break late Monday afternoon that caused a commuting nightmare on the North Shore.

Nelson Hydro is apologizing for the gas main break late Monday afternoon that caused a commuting nightmare on the North Shore.

General manager Alex Love says both they and their contractor are investigating the rupture that caused a closure of Highway 3A at Longbeach for over seven hours.

“We’re investigating the whole incident to see if there’s anything we can do to prevent these incidents,” he says.

“It’s coming down to the location of the gas line. We’re not quite sure if [the map] was incorrect or if they were too close to an accurate location.”

Love says they were in the midst of replacing about 30 power poles — a routine job of digging holes, setting new poles, and transferring wires from the old poles.

He says the contractor followed the proper procedures by contacting BC One Call, the central agency that keeps track of underground lines.

“It amounts to they put their hole in thinking the gas line was several meters to the side. Turned out it wasn’t.”

Love says it’s not unheard of for lines to be in a different location than what is shown.

The job was about three-quarters completed when the line was hit, but work has stopped until the investigations are concluded.

“We want to ensure we’re not going to run into the same thing in another day,” Love says. “The first incident review we’re expecting this week, and it will probably be a couple of days into next week for the second one.”

He adds that they “very much regret the inconvenience” motorists experienced.

“We’re trying to keep the electrical system in good shape so we don’t have power outages, but ironically experienced a gas outage in the process of doing that.”

Terasen Gas crews worked through the night to plug the leak, and went door-to-door to over 440 homes twice — to shut the gas off, and then turn it on again.

The highway finally re-opened shortly before midnight. Although motorists were warned of the closure at the ferries and the orange bridge, traffic line-ups still snaked back several kilometers.

Nelson Search and Rescue was called out by boat to help an East Shore man in diabetic distress on the Balfour side of the line-up, although an ambulance was allowed through before they arrived.