March, 2023

This is a repeating event

202302MarAll DayRimbey Pipeline Flammable Release 1979Rimbey Pipeline Mill Woods (CA-AB)Lessons:Emergency Preparedness,Stakeholder EngagementIndustry:PipelinesCountry:CanadaLanguage:ENLoC:Deficiency Origin: HSE Incident:VCEHazards:FlammableImpact:HUMAN (Offsite At Risk)Effects:EnvironmentalMaterial:Propane


The Rimbey pipeline system in Alberta, Canada transports liquid propane, butane and condensate products in an 8-inch pipeline. On the day of the incident the operating pumps were pumping against a closed valve. The line failed at a pressure of approximately 8000 kPa, which is below the 8372 kPa maximum operating pressure for the pipeline.

Liquid propane erupted violently and formed a pond of boiling propane. The propane quickly formed a ground level flammable gas cloud, which rolled across topsoil until it reached a road where it was ignited by a passing truck. Liquid propane entered a nearby storm sewer catchment basin. The propane spread into adjacent sewer lines. Explosive mixtures were detected over a wide area within the sewer system.

No injuries were recorded, however the incident instigated a large-scale evacuation of 19,000 people while efforts were made to eliminate the explosive danger.

A combination of water flushing, ventilation and nitrogen gas blanketing successfully eliminated the danger about 23 hours after the original fracture. Maintenance crews plugged the pipeline either side of the fracture to stop the flow of leaking gas


Image Credit: Provincial Archives Of Alberta


HSEUK Health & Safety Executive