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

Best of the City: Live-streaming in quarantine

Arts and entertainment community resilient in the face of a pandemic

Tour de Rock arrives in Nanaimo, now it’s off to the next station

Cops for Cancer team completes Nanaimo section of Vancouver Island cycle relay

Best of the City: Burger joint is tops in Nanaimo

Newly opened Top Notch Burgers Grill and Lounge voted Best Hamburgers

Best of the City: Breathe easy

Modo Yoga wins Best Yoga Studio category during challenging time for health and wellness businesses

Nanaimo’s new NightOwls baseball team announces first player signings

Four NCAA Div. 1 players, three of them Canadians, added to roster

Tour de Rock arrives in Nanaimo, now it’s off to the next station

Cops for Cancer team completes Nanaimo section of Vancouver Island cycle relay

Best of the City: This year’s winners

Nanaimo News Bulletin presents full results of our 2020 Best of the City readers’ survey

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Mask rules inconsistent

Letter writer says he won’t pay fine for violating COVID-19 Related Measures Act

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read