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Canadian First Nation demands Enbridge reroute gas pipeline after 2018 explosion

09/14/2021 | 03:32pm EDT

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A Canadian First Nation in northern British Columbia said on Tuesday it was trying to force Enbridge Inc to reroute a natural gas pipeline off its reserve lands after the line exploded in 2018, causing residents to flee their homes.

The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation has written to the Canadian federal and B.C. provincial governments, which grant pipeline rights of way, asking ministers to order Enbridge to reroute a 1.5 kilometer (0.9 mile) section of its T-South pipeline network that crosses the nation's reserve lands.

A section of the pipeline exploded in October 2018 about 500 meters from the reserve near Prince George, resulting in a giant fireball, flying debris and shaking buildings, Chief Dolleen Logan wrote in the letter.

"We have good reason to be concerned and doubt Enbridge's safety record," Logan said in a news release. "We don't trust Enbridge transporting hydrocarbons through our reserves."

The Canada Energy Regulator last year fined Enbridge subsidiary Westcoast Energy C$40,000 ($31,578.12) for the blast. The T-South system is part of a 2,858 kilometer (1,776 mile) network of natural gas pipelines supplying southern British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, which can move up to 2.9 billion cubic feet a day, according to the company's website.

The Lheidli T'enneh is also suing Enbridge for damages from the explosion.

"We are happy to meet with the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation or any government agency to discuss the safety of the pipeline system or any other matter, including the small segments of pipeline that traverse their reserve," Enbridge spokesman Jesse Semko said in an email.

Logan said residents living on the reserve, including the children on the school bus, had to cross the pipeline daily and Enbridge had not offered proper emergency planning.

The Lheidli T'enneh said it was inspired by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer revoking a right of way for Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, citing concerns that pipeline could leak into the Great Lakes.

Enbridge ignored that order to halt operations and is locked in a legal battle with the state.

($1 = 1.2667 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Richard Chang)

By Nia Williams

ę Reuters 2021
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