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• Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Today I was talking to someone about the explosive devices which have detonated under two sour gas pipelines southeast of Dawson Creek, in the past week.

The first explosion blew a 1.8-metre crater in the ground near a sour gas pipeline last Saturday. The second blast, just four days later, blew a small leak in another pipeline 20 km from the first.

As the person who wrote the Tumbler Ridge Emergency Plan, this is a huge issue for me. Fortunately, in this event, no lives were lost but when something like this happens it reminds us of the possibilities.

I just wanted to take a minute to remind everyone that *in the event of a leak or explosion that sends hazardous gasses into the air, evacuation of the community may not be the safest plan. Unless the hazardous material is flammable, emergency response professionals recommend that you stay indoors until you receive instructions to leave.

Here is the suggested protocol for such an event:

  • Go indoors and stay there
  • Close all outside doors and every door inside the building
  • Close all windows.
  • Do not use kitchen or bathroom vents.
  • Set thermostats so air conditioners, furnaces and hot water heaters will not come on
  • Do not use fireplaces or wood stoves. Close all dampers
  • Do not operate the clothes dryer
  • Stay in one well-sealed room, on the top floor is preferable.
  • Stay away from windows and doors if possible. Put damp clothes, sheets or towels around unsealed air pathways (under the door, cracks, windows) to prevent air from coming in.
  • Avoid smoking as it contaminates the air
  • Do not leave the building until told to do so
  • Stay tuned to local television or radio for information
  • Do not use the telephone; leave lines open for emergency personnel.

Our well weather-stripped buildings slow the movement of air into the buildings and any hazardous material that does enter is weakened when it mixes with the indoor air. It is imperative that you stay indoors, especially if you see a cloud, vapour, or smoke from the hazardous material outdoors or you can smell it indoors. You will be safer inside.

* I took much of this information from the District website. Oil and gas activity have increased substantially since I wrote the emergency plan and with what has been happening, I just wanted to make sure people are aware that in the event of a sour gas well leak affecting the air in Tumbler Ridge, it is very important to stay inside and follow the preceding directions for your own safety.  Schools, business, and families should all have this information and have a room designated in the event of a sour gas event and make it as air tight as possible.

As the fire of 2006 and the recent bombings have shown us, the north is not immune from disaster.  The more we can do to prepare, as a community, as individuals, the better off we are.

Thanks for stopping by,

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