FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Frustration continues to build for residents of the Old Fort. A dozen residents occupied the offices of the Peace River Regional District in Fort St. John Wednesday, demanding answers after their natural gas we turned off.
At first, the Peace River Regional District said PNG requested the gas be turned off to inspect their equipment and lines at homes in the community. Brad Sperling, Chair of the PRRD told Moose FM, “This seems like a decision that PNG had made,” adding no further comment.
PNG, on the other hand, said they were asked by the PRRD to turn off gas in the community due to safety concerns. A PNG spokesperson told Moose FM the Regional District had expressed concerns that some residents were entering the evacuation area and trying to re-light their gas equipment.
Then late Wednesday night the Regional District made the following statement on their website “On October 23rd, 2018 information was provided to PNG that upon BC Hydro restoring power to Old Fort a number of residents were attempting to light pilot lights in their homes, however, were being unsuccessful.”
According to the Regional District, this raised concerns because unsuccessful attempts to turn on gas appliances could result in natural gas pooling in homes which could cause an explosion.
From the beginning, officials said gas would only be out for the day, but now residents will have to access their homes with PNG to turn gas service back on. The Regional District will issue permits to residents and PNG to do that. You can ask for a permit by calling 250-784-3200.
Meanwhile, a report from Westrek Geotechnical Services is expected any day now. The report will identify the residual hazards and risks that exist, as well as recommendations regarding whether it is safe for residents to return to their properties and under what conditions
A draft report was supposed to be finished Friday, but the PRRD says it could take longer as significant additional data was forwarded to them by provincial agencies on Wednesday.
The draft report will then be shared with an independent geotechnical firm who will conduct a peer review of the data.
All recommendations from the report will undergo a legal review and will then will be weighed carefully by the Regional Board.