Despite assurances from Spectra Energy's McMahon Gas Plant and the RCMP that a major gas leak had been fully contained by Saturday, a National Energy Board (NEB) spokesperson said it wasn’t until Sunday morning that the leak had been completely contained.
About 2,200 barrels worth of butane leaked into the atmosphere Saturday, said the NEB’s Darin Barter, some of which could be seen in a thick white plume visible from the outskirts of Taylor.
The BC Oil & Gas Commission "were getting readings off those tanks well into Sunday," said Barter, adding that "this incident was actually not under control until Sunday."
The incident caused the partial evacuation of portions of southwest Taylor, and the Alaska Highway was closed in both directions while crews worked to contain the leak.
Asked why the plant’s account of when the leak was fully contained differed from the NEB’s, Spectra Energy communications advisor Jesse Semko said the company might have had to do a depressurization of a tank, which would have meant further leaks.
“They shut off the valve and the line to the butane tank which basically stopped the plume,” he said. “From there, there would have been some depressurization of the tank.”
He didn’t know the exact time when that depressurization occurred.
Barter said 2,200 barrels of butane represents “a significant volume of gas.”
On Monday, technical staff from the NEB were on site conducting an inspection.
“We don’t have a timeline for this investigation,” Barter said. “[The leak] was only brought to a close [Sunday], so I’m thinking several weeks as an estimate before we get a firm cause.”