65 forced from homes after Irving Oil butane leak in Saint John

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A leak of a highly-flammable gas at Irving Oil’s operations forced roughly 65 people from their homes in an east Saint John neighbourhood on Monday, Jan. 8.

The CBC reported on the butane leak at Irving Oil’s Saint John East Terminal after the company announced on Twitter that it had discovered the rupture during “routine testing.”

As of Wednesday morning, the residents from roughly 30 homes over four streets still could not return home.

Irving says it doesn’t know what caused the rupture in the pipe, which runs from the east terminal to the Irving Oil refinery, nor when it started or how much of the gas was released.

Butane is a colourless, highly-flammable gas that, if inhaled, can cause nausea, asphyxia (oxygen deprivation causing unconsciousness, suffocation or death) and arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat).

Kelsey Fillmore, a resident of the affected neighbourhood, told CBC that she and her husband could smell a “nauseating” odour as early as Friday, Jan. 5.

“I guess my big concern about that is, if it’s been leaking for a few days, how come alarms haven’t been going off since then?” Fillmore told CBC.

Emergency crews are looking into a possible connection between the smell and the leak.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy told CBC it’s too soon to say whether Irving Oil will face charges for the leak.

The Saint John Fire Department announced the leak had been stopped during a morning media briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Clean-up of the liquid butane spill at 350 Bayside Dr. is still underway. The major east Saint John artery remains closed to all traffic between the Courtenay Bay Causeway and Red Head Road.

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