Westcoast Energy has been fined for failing to prevent a fiery pipeline blast northeast of Prince George, B.C., two years ago that led to natural gas shortages in the province through the winter.

The Enbridge subsidiary was issued the $40,000 fine after the Canada Energy Regulator determined Westcoast did not adequately implement a stress corrosion monitoring program that would have identified the problem section of the pipe.

In its final report released in March, the Transportation Safety Board said the 90-centimetre pipeline that supplies much of southern B.C. ruptured due to stress corrosion cracks on the outside surface of the pipe.

The safety board said the company didn't follow its own procedures in technical assessment and approvals before deciding to defer the inspection that may have identified the cracks.

Since the blast, an Enbridge spokeswoman says the company has paid the fine as well as completed enhanced inspections on its natural gas pipeline system and undertaken an aggressive integrity program to prevent future incidents.

No one was hurt in the Oct. 9, 2018, explosion but 125 people within a two-kilometre radius had to be evacuated as a precaution.

"Since the Shelley incident, we’ve completed a comprehensive pipeline integrity program on our natural gas pipeline system in B.C. to prevent similar incidents from occurring and to significantly improve pipeline safety. This is the most aggressive integrity program ever undertaken by Enbridge on its pipeline system in B.C.," said Tracie Kenyon, Enbridge's senior corporate communications advisor.

Kenyon said the company understands the concerns and disruptions faced by people living in the area, and has taken steps to ensure the safety of its natural gas system.

Companies in this story: (TSX: ENB, TSX: TRP)

Westcoast Energy fined $40,000 for fiery pipeline blast northeast of Prince George, B.C. #WestcoastEnergy #cityofpg #CER

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020

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Oooh! Forty grand! They're scared now!!!

$40,000 is an utterly absurd penalty for a corporation like Westcoast Energy. The message in that from the farcically titled Canada Energy Regulator is that it is far cheaper for them to keep on with the same irresponsible neglect of maintenance and safety.