Contractor set to pay for Caswell Hill natural gas leak

January 10, 2017 - 8:35pm
SaskEnergy crews were on the scene for 30 hours to repair a natural gas line struck by a city contractor on Jan. 9, 2016.
Chris Vandenbreekel/650 CKOM
SaskEnergy crews were on the scene for 30 hours to repair a natural gas line struck by a city contractor on Jan. 9, 2016.

Monday's natural gas line rupture in Saskatoon's Caswell Hill neighbourhood has been fully repaired, but the bill is still to come.
SaskEnergy says the contractor responsible for the breach will be paying the cost of the repairs, as well as for the lost natural gas.
"That gas line blew for 13 hours," said Dave Burdeniuk, director of media and government relations for the energy provider. "Natural gas is a commodity, it's been bought and paid for."
He said a preliminary investigation has revealed that the contractor was working on behalf of the City of Saskatoon on 30th Street when the breach occurred.
Burdeniuk said they had requested a "utility locate" from SaskEnergy, but failed to wait for confirmation that there were no lines nearby.
The city has shut down the contractor until the investigation is completed, but declined a 650 CKOM request to name the company involved.

'Tens of thousands of dollars'

Burdeniuk said the combination of lost gas, special equipment and manpower hours could increase the bill exponentially.
"It won't be cheap," he said, noting that SaskEnergy crews were on site for 30 hours.
"My best guess would be in the tens of thousands of dollars range." he said.
The city says while municipal police and fire responded to the leak, taxpayers wouldn't be faced with any costs.

Inches from disaster

The crew responsible for the breach is lucky to be alive according to Burdeniuk.
"When that drill truck hit the pipeline, there could have been ignition and loss of life," he said, noting it was a steel-on-steel impact.
A large loss of service was also narrowly avoided. 
The supply line the crew hit was a medium-pressure line serving a few homes in the area, but just inches away was a high-pressure line serving thousands of customers.
"Had that been damaged, we might have been at risk for losing a large portion of our service for the west side of Saskatoon," Burdeniuk said.

Repairs complete, air safe

SaskEnergy confirmed at 4 p.m. Tuesday that repairs had been completed to the pipe.
Overnight four homes lost natural gas service close to the leak, but most residents didn't notice until they woke up Tuesday morning. Service was restored through temporary ground-level hoses by 5 a.m.
Burdeniuk also said there was no danger in terms of air quality, even shortly after the burst.
"Our concern is with the impact," he said. "The gas dissipates in the atmosphere quickly."
He noted the foul smell in the area was a heavier odourant that falls closer to the ground to alert people to a breached line.