According to Canadian Press and CBC news, an explosion destroyed the TQM pumping station's instrumentation building in East Hereford, Quebec around 5:30 PM on Thursday, December 28th.
Reports say that the blast shook windows as far away as Colebrook, New Hampshire and that an orange fireball from the explosion was also visible there. Colebrook is about 25 kilometers from the scene of the accident.
CBC quoted TQM's president as saying that there was "no fire and no natural gas released into the atmosphere". There would appear to be a considerable gap between news reports and his statement. Readers may judge whether TQM's CEO has lost his senses or is simply engaging in the kind of distortion used so frequently by TQM throughout public hearings on their project.
It took emergency workers more than one-and-a-half hours to reach the scene of the accident. First on the scene were 25 volunteer firemen from Beecher Falls, Vermont.
Response time was a major concern of landowners during public hearings. There is no indication of how long it took TQM workers or Canadian disaster response teams to arrive.
A TQM staff member working at the site at the time of the explosion was severely burned and has been hospitalized.
According to the CP report TQM says the pipeline itself was not damaged and there would be no interruptions in service to its customers. Business as usual.
The cause of the blast has not yet been determined, but landowners fully acquainted with the project cannot be expected to be overly surprised that disaster has struck the TQM pipeline barely two years after it was pressed into service. None of the participants in the project ever demonstrated what could be called an excess of competency.
Much of the construction was carried out by local contractors who have no particular qualifications to perform such specialized work. This and a dearth of inspectors resulted in numerous instances of damage being done to the pipeline during construction.
Curiously, all instances of pipeline damage during construction occurred on or very near the properties of landowners who contested the project. In some cases the damage was repaired, while in other cases (including one less than four-hundred feet from where this writer sits) TQM deemed the damage to be "within operational and safety norms" and simply covered it over again.
Contrary to assurances given to landowners before the project began, the National Energy Board provided no safety or environmental inspectors of their own during the project.
At the conclusion of the project a representative of the National Energy Board scheduled meetings with local landowners for them to express their concerns about the safety of the pipeline, but canceled them abruptly because he was "too busy".
There have been reports lately that some of TQM's equipment has not been functioning properly. The corrosion control system has been mentioned prominently. TQM has made two follow-up visits to this writer's land after their routine annual check-up of that system.
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