Enbridge’s pipeline explosion near Prince George hit too close to home for many people including BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
He was one of many from the Shelley Reserve who were evacuated from yesterday’s fireball.
Teegee has lived on the reserve for nearly two decades and has never seen anything quite like it.
“I live on the north side, the side that was evacuated and I do have a home there with my wife as she is from the Lheidli T’enneh, I have lived there for approximately seventeen years and have never seen anything like this before.”
He adds many people elected to hang back when they were given the all clear to return home.
“I did return briefly to return some clothes but most of our community members spent the night in a hotel and when I did return home I noticed the smell of burning gasoline.”
The pipeline is located less than a kilometre away from the community, Teegee commends the quick work of all emergency who came out and got everybody off the area safely.
“It was good to see all the emergency services and the RCMP that came out and they told us to evacuate the community as quickly as possible, it was quite frightening.”
“I have never seen anything like this and I don’t think anybody has because you could see the flames from UNBC to many areas around Prince George and if you watch the video, you can see the flames are quite high and you can gauge their height based on the trees.”
An incident such as this could also re-open the discussion on the pros and cons of pipelines in general as this has been a hot topic in all levels of government, including the much-maligned Trans Mountain Pipeline, which reopened the consultation process with First Nations via the Federal Government.
However, Teegee says the issue of safety needs to be brought up.
“Before we think about building any other new pipelines maybe we should think about the existing ones that are in the ground and make sure they are safe. What are the other safety precautions that need to be taken because more often than not even though pipelines are a lot safer than rail transportation, there is still an inherent risk to pipelines these risks or any other forms of transportation oil or gas has to be looked at in terms of how companies are regulated?”
The Transportation Safety Board has a pair of members in Prince George today assessing the explosion.
The National Energy Board will provide a further update later today.
As a result of Tuesday’s fireball, Fortis BC encourages residents in the north to reduce gas use as much as possible until the investigative process is over.