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ATCO, Town of Wainwright restoring gas to residences and CF base after leak

Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright, Alberta, seen here in July, 2010.
Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright, Alberta, seen here in July, 2010. File/Global News

ATCO Gas shut down the main feed to the Alberta town of Wainwright Tuesday due to a leak. Roughly 2,000 town customers and 240 ATCO customers were impacted.

“At the moment, the town has no gas supply,” a message posted on the town’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon explained.

“This will directly affect all gas appliances including furnace and hot water.”

The fire chief told Global News that ATCO was doing an integrity test on a line when there was a malfunction which disturbed the line and cut natural gas to the entire town and the Canadian Forces base.

The town said it is “seeking alternative gas supply until repairs to the main line can be completed.”

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Steve Douglas, who is the town’s director of protective services in addition to serving as fire chief, said they brought in pressurized natural gas trucks from Edmonton and elsewhere — some from as far as five hours away — and had gas going to essential services like hospitals, assisted living facilities and the community hall.

Douglas said the town hoped to have repairs done Tuesday night but asked people to go to the community hall if they’re cold in their houses. The fire department also asked people to conserve heat, use portable heaters, don’t use hot water, and avoid using natural gas services.

Shortly before 8 p.m., the Town of Wainwright said the first gas truck had arrived in the community and was “getting ready to pressurize the system.”

Beginning Tuesday evening, gas fitters started going door to door to relight appliances. That process continued overnight and into Wednesday morning.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the town said: “Crews are out relighting. If you are not home and need to make arrangements with us, please contact the Town Office at 780-842-3381” or utilities@wainwright.ca. Anyone who hasn’t been visited by a crew member by 3 p.m. should also call the town.

Crews are expected to be out relighting until 10 p.m. Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the gas company told Global News that ATCO was aware of the situation Tuesday morning. Crews were able to bring the situation under control and stop the flow of gas, the company said.

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Later Tuesday evening ATCO said crews had isolated the line and had brought in temporary natural gas to the area.

It is working with the fire department and the town to restore service to homes in the town and on the Canadian Forces base. The town called in 27 additional workers to help with the job of relighting everyone’s appliances.

ATCO said the cause is still being investigated.

Wainwright is about 200 kilometres east of Edmonton.

In 2016, the population of the town was nearly 6,300.

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