Quebec Gas Explosion Near Vermont

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Quebec Gas Explosion Near Vermont

The Associated Press, Thu 28 Dec 2000 Email this story to a friend Print this story EAST HEREFORD, Quebec (AP) An explosion ripped through a natural gas pipeline station just across Vermont's border in Canada Thursday evening, injuring at least one man, authorities said.

The explosion near East Hereford, Quebec, which occurred about 5:30 p.m. EST, shook windows up to 15 miles away, authorities said.

About 25 U.S. and Canadian firefighters rushed to the scene, about five miles north of Beecher Falls, Vt., where the blast had left parts of the station in flames, said Gary Richardson, a spokesman for the Beecher Falls Volunteer Fire Department.

Quebec police said there were no fatalities, but a worker was taken to a nearby hospital with burns.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the blast.

http://www.gas.com/?action=display&article=5041585&template=gas/index.txt&index=recent

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 28, 2000

Answers

Ottawa Citizen

One person hurt in natural gas explosion near Quebec-Vermont border

EAST HEREFORD, Que. (CP) - An explosion that injured one man and rattled windows for kilometres ripped through a natural gas pipeline station just north of the Quebec-Vermont border early Thursday evening. A gas company employee was severely burned, but the extent of his injuries were not immediately known, Quebec provincial police said.

The man was pulled at about 7 p.m. from the wreckage of the building where the explosion occurred and taken to Coaticook Hospital for treatment, said Const. Gerard Carrier of Quebec provincial police.

The explosion, which occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m., happened at the TQM Pipeline compression station, shaking windows as far away as Colebrook, N.H., some 25 kilometres south.

An electrical building next to the compression station had to be completely torn down as a result of the flames and the compression station itself was "heavily damaged," said Carrier.

Robert Heider, vice-president of TQM Pipeline, said the station compressed natural gas bound for the United States, in this case Portland, Me. The gas has to be compressed before it can be transported.

"No Quebec or Canadian customers will be affected," said Heider, adding the pipeline itself was not damaged.

TQM Pipeline's technicians will work with police and other experts to find the cause of the blast.

Richard Belleville, East Hereford's mayor, was on the scene and could not be reached. His wife said the explosion was very powerful.

"We felt the house shake," said Suzanne Inkel. "There was a big boom and my son saw the fireball. Then it went dark."

Several houses lost power after the explosion.

East Hereford is a small community of 316 people nestled among the Appalachian mountains in the southwest corner of Quebec.

A firefighter with the Beecher Falls, Vt., Volunteer Fire Department said his department sent about 25 people to the scene, about eight kilometres to the north.

Firefighter Gary Richardson, who remained behind to staff the Beecher Falls station, said there was, "a lot of structural damage to the facility."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), December 28, 2000.


Ottawa Citizen

Still no explanations for East Hereford natural gas explosion

EAST HEREFORD, Que. (CP) - Trans Quebec Maritime Pipeline still couldn't explain on Friday what caused an explosion at a compression station in the southeast corner of Quebec. An employee, Magog resident Denis Laliberte, 46, suffered burns and was resting at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in stable condition.

Laliberte could shed some light on the cause of the Thursday evening explosion when he feels up to it, company spokesmen said Friday.

In the meantime, Trans Quebec Maritime Pipeline is reassuring residents of the East Hereford region that everything possible has been done to ensure their safety. The Transportation Safety Board is also conducting an investigation to find the cause of the blast.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), December 30, 2000.


Mon real Gazette

Saturday 30 December 2000

Blast no surprise, Townshippers say Pipeline an accident waiting to happen: residents LIANNE ELLIOTT Freelance

When an explosion ripped through a natural-gas pumping station Thursday, flattening a control building and severely burning an employee, East Hereford residents living nearby were terrified but not at all surprised.

"We always knew something like this would happen," said Lucie Roy-Alain, who lives on an East Hereford farm 175 kilometres southeast of Montreal. "It was inevitable."

For Eastern Townships residents like Roy-Alain, the explosion in the TransQuebec & Maritime Pipeline compressor station is a strong indication the 2-year-old natural-gas pipeline should never have been approved.

Since TQM, a Canadian pipeline company, came forward with a proposal to build the pipeline in the mid-1990s, many Eastern Township residents have been up in arms.

At various hearings and reviews, they called the project - which allows Gaz Metropolitain to deliver natural gas to New England - a health and personal safety risk, a threat to the environment and a violation of personal rights because anyone living in the path of the 200-kilometre pipeline had to allow the line to pass through their property.

Despite residents' protests, and a harsh critique of the project by the Quebec government's environmental hearing commission (the Bureau des Audiences Publiques sur l'Environnement), the pipeline was approved by the National Energy Board in April of 1998 and construction began in September.

"I have been opposed to the pipeline since the beginning. It should have never been installed. I used to be afraid of it, and now my fears have been reaffirmed," said Helene Pariseau, who lives on an 89-hectare dairy farm that is adjacent to the compressor station where the explosion occurred.

She said the explosion was so loud and violent, it shook her home, broke the glass in her windows and cracked the aluminum siding on her porch.

"We're just lucky the whole (pipeline) didn't explode or we wouldn't be alive today. We would have all burned instantly," she added. The natural-gas pipeline runs through her property, less than 300 metres from the home where she, her husband and her two daughters live, she said.

TQM, however, insists the explosion was not as bad as it seemed and caused almost no damage. The company says the flow of natural gas was never interrupted, though its volume and speed is now slightly decreased because the compressor station, which forces natural gas through the pipeline at a rapid rate, cannot operate without the control building.

Robert Heider, vice-president (marketing and regulatory affairs) at TQM, could not estimate how much it would cost to rebuild the control building, but he did say the compressor station as a whole is worth $12 million.

What concerned TQM the most was the employee injured in the explosion, Heider said. Denis Laliberte, a 46-year-old TQM employee from Magog, was working on site when the incident occurred. He was reported in stable condition yesterday, recovering from burns at the Universite de Sherbrooke hospital.

"It is very unfortunate that someone had to get injured in the incident," Heider said.

Despite the explosion, TQM says residents living along the pipeline have nothing to fear. An investigation by TQM, the National Energy Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has not yet determined the cause of the incident, but TQM says it is not an indication that the entire pipeline is faulty.

"From what we can tell, this was an isolated problem in the control building. It is very specific," Heider said.

Resident Roy-Alain is not persuaded. She said there have been problems with the pipeline since it was installed, including power surges that have shorted her freezer. She also said TQM had to dig up the pipeline they initially installed on her property because they buried it incorrectly.

"There have been so many problems, but (TQM) is always trying to hide them. They rushed through everything they did because it's always about money, money, money," she said.

What worries residents most is the possibility of another accident. And because most areas along the pipeline are far from emergency services, the consequences could be fatal, they say.

"This is an isolated area," said East Hereford's Pariseau.

"If there were a bigger explosion, we would all have time to burn while we wait for the fire trucks and ambulances to arrive."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), December 30, 2000.


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