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Union Gas opts to replace lines

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Union Gas will be replacing an estimated 43 km of steel natural gas lines within Fort Frances over the next couple of years.

“Union Gas is working on plans to upgrade the natural gas distribution system in the Fort Frances area,” Andrea Stass, manager of Public Affairs and Media Relations for Union Gas Ltd., said Thursday.

“We’re doing some pre-engineering surveys right now that will help us determine the extent of that upgrade and what the cost of that upgrade will be,” she added. “But we anticipate it will be a significant portion of the distribution system.”

The survey work will carry on through the fall, with construction to begin next spring. Gas line replacement work will continue in phases over the next two-three years.

“To minimize the disruption and to try and limit the amount of road closures, and allow us to maintain access to homes and businesses, we’re working closely with the Town of Fort Frances so we can co-ordinate our construction activities with other planned municipal replacement work,” explained Stass.

“And where possible, pipelines will be bored, and that reduces impact to private land.

“There will be construction, there will be some impact, but we’re working with the town to co-ordinate our activities to minimize that,” Stass stressed.

“Using this boring, or underground drilling, helps us to reduce that impact.”

A section of steel natural gas line already was replaced with the new plastic piping several weeks ago during the sewer and water work on Central Avenue.

Just as it was standard to use steel natural gas lines in years past, Stass said the “new standard” is to use plastic lines to deliver natural gas.

Union Gas will be replacing the old pipeline here with two- and four-inch plastic lines, depending on where the lines are located in the town.

Stass noted the replacement project was prompted by the gas leak that led to the explosion at J.W. Walker School here in late February.

“There was an investigation into a gas leak in a pipeline near the school. What that revealed was there was a cracked weld in the pipeline and it was caused by a combination of factors; a number of things contributed to that,” she explained.

“There’s still an investigation going on as to what happened inside the school, and we don’t have those findings at this point, but we’re not waiting for that,” Stass added.

“In response to the incident, we’re taking the routine pipeline maintenance that we do every year anyway, and we’re moving the schedule forward and doing it all to ensure that our pipelines remain in safe operating condition.”

Town council approved an agreement with Union Gas on Sept. 8 to formally exchange geographic information system (GIS) data to help the company develop an action place to replace its gas lines.

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