At least four pad-mounted transformers have been deliberately damaged in the Mt. Seymour- Parkgate area since April 2019, BC Hydro says, resulting in power outages, oil spills, and transformer explosions. (BC Hydro photo)

Vandalized BC Hydro transformers cause power outages, oil spill and hefty damage

At least four pad-mounted transformers have been vandalized since April in North Vancouver

BC Hydro is sounding the alarm after a stint of vandalism to at least four BC Hydro transformers in North Vancouver caused days of power outages and concerning safety risks.

At least four pad-mounted transformers have been vandalized since April in the Mt. Seymour area of the North Shore with what appears to have been some kind of saw and drill, BC Hydro confirmed to Black Press Media on Wednesday.

These kinds of transformer boxes are most commonly used within new neighbourhoods or developments where power lines are installed underground instead of through above-ground poles. They are often located along the pathway of a building or on a lawn.

Each box has equipment that helps transport electricity into homes and buildings, as well as mineral oil that keeps the machinery from overheating or sparking.

ALSO READ: Raccoon caught taking a nap, snacking in BC Hydro van

BC Hydro public safety lead Jonny Knowles said there is nothing worth stealing inside and breaking in only poses significant safety risks to the public.

“For someone to deliberately do this to a transformer box is beyond me,” he told Black Press Media in a phone interview. “I’ve been in the public safety department for just over six years and I have never come across someone doing this.”

Each box is built on a gravel base that serves as a protective barrier between the transformer and soil, Knowles explained, and are made to stop working, or “trip,” when there is not enough mineral oil to keep the area cool.

But there is a risk that the equipment doesn’t halt, and instead sparks a fire – or at worst an explosion – Knowles said, a concern that worsen during the drier summer months. If a substantial amount of the mineral oil leaks, the soil and nearby plants could be contaminated.

In each of the incidents, which happened on April 2 and 24, May 1 and July 2, the transformers did successfully trip, causing lengthy outages to nearby areas, including neighbourhoods, restaurants and grocery stores, Knowles said. In one instance, the power was cut for three days while BC Hydro crews worked to repair the box.

Roughly 1,000 litres of mineral oil leaked from another transformer, but the gravel base was able to stop it from seeping into the grass.

It cost roughly $150,000 to repair the four transformers, Knowles said. That doesn’t include loss of business nor restocking food that went bad at affected stores and restaurants.

Equipment is vandalized now and again, Knowles added, but these cases are particularly concerning because of “the danger they present to themselves, the public and BC Hydro employees.”

The Crown corporation suspects the cases of vandalism are all connected, and police are investigating the incidents. Black Press Media has reached out to Mounties for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shortage of workers on Creston, Okanagan cherry and apple farms due to COVID-19

‘The tree fruit industry and the Ministry of Agriculture are asking local workers to consider helping with the harvest so that food waste is reduced’

Okanagan, Creston cherry and apple farms in need of workers

The worker shortage is due to the COVID-19 restrictions on international travel

Creston Fire Rescue Report: nine calls between Aug. 1 and 6

On Aug. 2, the CFR team and Wynndel Lakeview Fire Department (WLFD) were dispatched to the area of Highway 3A in Sirdar for a two-vehicle motorcycle incident

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Creston Valley Hospital addresses COVID-19 rumours regarding farms

‘Not one seasonal worker in Creston has tested positive for COVID-19,’ said Dr. Nerine Kleinhans

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

B.C. group renews call for protection of newly discovered glass sponge reefs

DFO says public consultation will play heavy role in future protection measures

Most Read