Councillor calls for better communication from Fortis after 140 calls to gas company in June

Mistaken increase in natural gas odorant behind the increased calls June 7 and 13

Coun. Gerry Dyble said better communication is needed from Fortis BC after a mistaken increase in the odour levels in Hope’s natural gas supply prompted 140 calls to the company this month.

While performing maintenance on June 7, Fortis BC mistakenly put too much oudourant into their gas lines, resulting in 100 people in Hope calling the company after smelling gas in their homes. On June 13, another 40 calls were received by the company, manager of corporate communications Sean Beardow said, the cause of this second round is still being investigated but could be due to ‘small pockets of gas’ with extra odourant remaining in the lines as less gas is used during the summer.

Beardow confirmed the company put information about the odourant issue out on their Twitter feed, however Dyble said this is not enough to reach those who are affected in Hope.

“When I called Fortis, all they had indicated was that it was a city-wide issue. Well there was nothing on their website and nor were we notified of the issue. And that was the first time around,” she told a council meeting Monday. “The concern is that you have this mass hysteria from the community that there is this gas leak…You have people who don’t use social media for their source of information. Seniors at home wondering what’s going on, they’re exiting their homes and standing outside their homes waiting for a technician to come, five hours later.”

Apart from social media, there are a number of other ways Fortis BC communicates with customers Beardow said. The call centre is the ‘front line’ for customer concerns and he said the call centre gets facts around any emergency quickly and can share it with people who call in.

Natural gas is odourless, Beardow explained, so an odourant called mercaptan is added to the gas which smells like rotten eggs. The chemical is added so people who have a leak will smell it and take action.

He said all the people who called Fortis BC had a technician dispatched to follow up. In normal circumstances, someone from Fortis BC would attend within the hour, however during the high volume this took longer. Some of those who called in from Hope had small gas leaks, not posing any danger to them, however Beardow said these people were encouraged to call a gas contractor to fix the leaks.

Dyble asked the district to follow up with Fortis BC to ask what their public statement is in the case of an issue like this and why the issue has happened twice in the last month.

John Fortoloczky, chief administrative officer with the district, recommended staff draft a letter ‘very strongly suggesting’ the company advertise and do a better job communicating issues like the odourant increase.

Beardow stated Fortis BC would also be assessing ‘how we communicate with municipal governments and emergency services in cases of higher than normal levels of odourant or similar non-critical incidents.’

He reminded residents of the standard procedure if people smell rotten eggs or hear the sound of gas escaping in their homes: leave your home immediately, once outside call Fortis emergency line (1-800-663-9911) or 911.


Is there more to this story?


news@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

Group forms in Hope to respond to homelessness, trauma and addictions

Homelessness Action Response Table (HART) full of local, regional, provincial movers and shakers

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

VIDEO: Woman files complaint over treatment of cat with two broken legs

Ariel Johnston of Abbotsford says her pet was sent home without pain medication

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

Most Read