Saint John butane leak evacuees to return home today

Report on Irving Oil butane leak that forced evacuation kept under wraps

All Saint John residents evacuated from their homes due to a ruptured Irving Oil pipeline carrying liquid butane will be able to return today, Saint John officials said. 

The leak was discovered Monday around 10:30 a.m. when workers were inspecting the pipeline in preparation for doing maintenance work.

In total, 84 residents were evacuated from 34 homes since Monday, according to the City of Saint John.

Residents from homes on Spruce Avenue, First Street East and Second Street East returned home yesterday afternoon, but 56 others remained in hotels while emergency responders completed air quality tests.

A statement issued by the City of Saint John says Saint John EMO, the Canadian Red Cross, and Irving Oil "would like to acknowledge all evacuees for their tremendous resiliency, patience, and will to maintain such well-rounded spirits.

"We also thank the general public for their continued patience and understanding through a week of traffic interruptions on the east side," the statement says.

Emergency responders are accompanying the residents into their homes to confirm the air quality and to ensure the properties sustained no damage, the statement says.

Some roads still closed

Bayside Drive, River Avenue and Pleasant City Street will remain closed the general public until further notice.

The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, which regulates pipelines that carry hazardous materials in the province, has conducted a preliminary investigation of the leak

It has directed Irving Oil to "demonstrate that the pipeline can be operated safely" before permission will be granted to resume operation, said board spokesman David Young.

The Department of Environment is also investigating the incident.