Manitoba Hydro deals with gas line breaks nearly daily

Although a large-scale evacuation like Thursday’s operation in downtown Winnipeg is comparatively rare, broken gas lines are not uncommon, says Manitoba Hydro.

Hydro’s Bruce Owen told 680 CJOB Friday that the utility deals with gas leaks on almost a daily basis.

“When you get one of these incidents, even if it’s small – say, on a residential street – you have to have an emergency response,” said Owen.

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“People have to get out of their houses, people need to come out and make sure gas isn’t migrating into neighbours’ basements or whatnot.”

Thursday’s incident happened when a contractor inadvertently struck a gas pipe.

Owen said it’s all about awareness, and if you’re digging, making sure you know what’s underground.

“It could happen to anyone who’s digging,” he said, “from a contractor in the city of Winnipeg to someone who’s installing fibre optic cable in rural Manitoba.

“Click before you dig. Have someone come out, locate where you’re going to be digging, what’s underground, and then follow the instructions.”

Causing a gas leak, even if it’s accidental, has the potential to result in financial penalties.

“In most cases – and it’s not only gas, we’ve got nine times as many contacts with electrical equipment – we’ll ask them to sign a form where they, in essence, accept responsibility for it,” said Owen.

“They can always decline to sign the form, and many do. However, we can also go to the courts to seek damages.

“In large instances, we will seek damages for the amount of gas that was wasted and for the response of our people.”

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