Manitoba Hydro is advising about 4,000 customers in southern Manitoba to be prepared for "an extended gas outage."
In a news release on Sunday at about 10:30 a.m., Manitoba Hydro said customers in the rural municipalities of Hanover, Ritchot and De Salaberry have been without a natural gas supply overnight, and many all day Saturday as well, after a rupture and fire occured on a TransCanada Corporation natural gas pipeline between Otterburne and Highway 59 early Saturday morning.
TransCanada and Manitoba Hydro will open an information centre for residents impacted by the natural gas outage at 3 p.m. today in Niverville. Representatives from both companies will be available to provide information regarding their specific property and the status of natural gas and power service. The address for the information centre is John Henry Banquet Room, 10 Cedar Drive, Niverville.
"The TransCanada pipeline that is affected is one of two that supply the Manitoba Hydro natural gas distribution system in the area. Although only one pipeline was damaged, the NEB (National Energy Board) and TSB (Transporation Safety Board) have asked TransCanada to shut off the gas supply to the second pipeline as a safety precaution," said the release.
"Once the TransCanada line is supplying natural gas to the region, Manitoba Hydro will immediately begin pressurizing its distribution system. Manitoba Hydro service personnel will be going house to house to check that service is properly restored. However, should customers smell natural gas in their homes they should immediately call 1-888-MB-HYDRO (1-888-624-9376)."
The release advised that temporary supplies of compressed natural gas (CNG) are being connected to "critical sites."
The TransCanada Corporation, in co-ordination with Manitoba Hydro, is bringing in a limited supply of the CNG in tanker, trucks which is being "delivered to critical locations identified by the Provincial Emergency Measures Organization. This supply is not sufficient to restore natural gas service to affected residential customers and communities," the release stated.
The De Salaberry Health Centre in St. Pierre-Joly was connected to a trucked supply at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday and the Heritage Life Personal Care Home in Niverville was connected at about 7 a.m. Sunday. Other critical sites to be connected later Sunday include the Menno Home in Grunthal and Kleefeld School.
TransCanada has been inspecting the pipeline this morning along with the National Energy Board and Transportation Safety Board.
Manitoba Hydro said repairs will begin "pending NEB and TSB approval. There is currently no estimate for restoration and Manitoba Hydro is advising customers to prepare for an extended gas outage."
"With respect to the ruptured pipeline, TransCanada is in there now inspecting the damage and coming up with a sense of how much work it is going to take to get repaired so we don't have an estimate yet in terms of a restoration time," a Hydro spokesman told the Free Press. "We're working side by side with them (TransCanada)."
He said the tanker trucks are carrying a limited supply of the compressed natural gas.
"They would not be able to supply gas to communities or residences, we are just working with the Provincial EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) to use it in a very targeted way."
People with concerns about their personal situation, shelter or livestock are advised to contact their local government authority.
People are reminded to use caution in using secondary heat sources. Use only approved space heaters and do not use appliances that are not approved for indoor use, such as barbecues, kerosene heaters or temporary gas space heaters as these can produce harmful levels of carbon monoxide and pose a dangerous fire risk.
Due to the extended gas outage in St. Pierre and St. Malo, school will be cancelled Monday at Ecole Heritage, I.C.S.P., and Ecole St. Malo, all in the Red River Valley School Division. Staff are expected to work from home.