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.

Just Posted

Rob Morrison sworn in as Kootenay-Columbia MP

Parliament set to reconvene on Thursday with election of House Speaker, Throne Speech

LETTER: Reflections on democracy and community from former Green party candidate

Abra Brynne ran in the 2019 federal election to be Kootenay-Columbia’s MP

Basin economic snapshot shows Kootenay a mixed bag

State of the Basin report shows economic recovery from recession a slow go

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Penticton RCMP warn of new ‘porting’ scam that puts internet banking, online accounts at risk

Two-factor verification has been the go-to way to keep online accounts secure

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

B.C. patients wait 41% longer than national average to see a walk-in doctor: Medimap

The longest wait time was found in Sidney, B.C., where patients waited an average of 180 minutes

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Most Read