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Gas leak on Columbia not due to operator error

MarWest Industries issued a press release today correcting (other) media coverage of yesterday's gas leak on Columbia Avenue. The release reads as follows:

"On Oct. 16, at approximately 1:55 p.m., Marwest Industries Ltd contacted FortisBC regarding a gas line break in the 1500 Block of Columbia Avenue. The gas line was damaged by a rock that was being moved by the excavator. The rock contacted the line and cut the wall of the pipe open, resulting in the release of natural gas to the atmosphere. Along with emergency services, WorkSafeBC was contacted and attended the site during the break to complete an investigation.

"It was reported in the media that “Operator Error” was the cause of this accident. This is not correct. A thorough investigation was conducted by WorkSafeBC and Marwest industries Ltd. to determine the cause of this incident and the operator was cleared of any unsafe actions."

MarWest also issued a press release yesterday after the leak, explaining to residents what had happened:

"The break happened while Marwest was excavating near the gas line to upgrade the adjacent water line. When dealing with underground utilities there are unforeseen obstacles, several have arisen on the project, unfortunately these obstacles can cause delays and can be an inconvenience to all involved.

"Marwest contacted the Fire Department and it was deemed necessary by Emergency Services to evacuate one local resident due to existing health concerns. The resident was moved until it was deemed safe to return to the home. When Emergency Services had completed their assessment, access was granted to the site.

"The response to the Service Line break was timely, equipment was shut down while vehicular and pedestrian traffic were re-routed, with all parties involved traffic began moving through the construction zone by 3.30pm.

"Marwest would also like the public to be informed that any and all threats to the on-site crew, traffic control personnel and staff on this project will no longer be tolerated. All threats, whether verbal, written, vehicular or other will be forwarded to the police for further action.

"The relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act are 141 and 141.1, the latter of which states “a person must obey directions of the traffic control person” whenever these people are controlling the movement of traffic. There’s no specific requirement that a construction zone is present or that there’s roadwork in the vicinity, the only question is whether the flagger is present and directing traffic. The offence of disobeying a flagger carries a $196.00 fine and three Driver Penalty Points.

"If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Communications Coordinator, Stephanie Pelletier at 250-304-8676 or email

"Project updates and current conditions can also be found on Martech Electricals’ Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram."