A leak on January 8th in Saint John, Canada, resulted in the evacuation of around eighty-four homes and several businesses. The 4-inch diameter pipeline carries liquid butane to a refinery for use as an additive to pressurize gasoline in the winter.

Firefighters monitored air quality during the incident, since butane gas if inhaled, can provoke nausea, asphyxia, and arrhythmia. Since the final report has not been published yet, the incident cause and volume of product spilt are unknown. The pipeline was operational again on January 19th, after the local authority in public utilities gave the permission.

This incident reminds us of the importance of reliable and robust leak detection systems and instrumentation for High Consequence Areas (HCA). An HCA can be drinking water sources, populated areas or sensitive ecological resources. Good engineering practices require pipeline operators to augment the leak detection system on sections where a pipeline failure could affect a high consequence area.

HCAs are often located in remote areas that lack power or communications for instrumentation. The lack of intermediate instrumentation makes sensitive leak detection in HCAs more difficult. The ability to install instrumentation at HCAs would allow the installation of a complimentary LDS with much higher sensibility as the sensors can isolate the HCA from the hydraulic influences of other pipeline sections.

By: Atmos International
Date: 11 October 2019