INNISFAIL – Mayoral candidate Glen Carritt said he’s paying for the entire cost of the emergency response to repair a natural gas line on his 59th Street property that was damaged on June 25 by a contractor he retained for construction at the site.
On June 28, Mike Sullivan, president of the Alberta One-Call, said there was no request for service to his agency for the June 25th dig. Alberta One-Call is a private, not-for-profit corporation citizens and businesses in the province call to check their properties for locations of utility lines before any construction or digging occurs.
“On the information we have, only two locate requests have been placed on that street this year, and one of them is likely the emergency related to the gas leak on Friday (June 25). The other ticket is quite a ways down the street,” said Sullivan, adding three requests were placed last year on 59 Street but they were not for 5052 – 59 Street, the legal location of Carritt’s property. “We were not notified of the excavation that resulted in the emergency.”
But the emergency was immediately noticed by residents on the street.
“You could literally walk outside and all you could smell was gas. If someone had lit up a cigarette probably our whole street would have went up in flames,” said Alena White, a single mother who lives on 59 street with her two young sons. “My children and myself are breathing that air. We are going to the doctor.”
She later told The Albertan her family endured gas irritation but are otherwise fine.
Tyson Lattery, who also lives on the street with his family, said he saw the construction happening at the Carritt property prior to 11 a.m. He said a saw a Ditch Witch being brought in, which is used for underground utility construction.
“I was loading up my truck. I could smell the natural gas. At first, I thought it might be propane,” said Lattery. “Shortly thereafter Glen came over and just told me that they hit a gas line that wasn’t marked. He was telling all the neighbours that they may want to leave.”
Carritt told The Albertan by text messages on June 28 that “no lines were detected when the line was marked when (FortisAlberta) dug in the power. “The contractor was not aware of expiration of first call and proceeded to dig,” said Carritt in his text. “No injuries or any problems arouse from this mishap.
“I made sure the site was safe and made the call to 911 for safety reasons,” he added. “No detectable gas (was) noted beyond five feet of the leak.”
When The Albertan pressed Carritt about why he did not call Alberta One-Call to verify the location of utility lines, the mayoral candidate said, “They were called when (FortisAlberta) dug in the lines.”
Carritt then confirmed “all cost” of the emergency response to the accident would be covered. It is not known at this time how much that will be.
The Albertan attempted to contact the ATCO for a comment on the June 25 natural gas line accident on 59th Street but a response was not immediately returned.
Ken Kowalchuk, the town’s communications coordinator, told The Albertan the town received a 911 call about the 59th Street accident before noon on June 25.
He said when local emergency responders from the Innisfail Fire Department arrived at the scene, they secured the area.
“They basically created a safe perimeter. ATCO arrived on scene and they resolved the issue. Our fire services were on scene until ATCO was able to control the leak,” said Kowalchuk.
He said no evacuations of any residents were made on 59th Street.
Citizens and businesses requiring knowledge and assistance about utility lines underneath their property can find information on the Alberta One-Call website at albertaonecall.com