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BC Hydro transformers target of dangerous, 'wanton' vandalism

Last Updated Jul 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm PDT


BC Hydro is trying to figure out who's been committing bizarre acts of vandalism targeting transformer boxes

Four boxes were cut or drilled into since April in North Vancouver

Johnny Knowles says the vandalism is extremely dangerous

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — BC Hydro crews are trying to find the person behind a string of bizarre acts of vandalism targeting power transformers in North Vancouver.

Four pad-mounted transformers around Northlands Golf Course appear to have been deliberately damaged since early April, leading to power outages, oil spills, and even causing transformers to explode. The damage has all cost about $150,000 to replace and repair the equipment.

Johnny Knowles with B.C. Hydro says the damage isn’t something that could happen by accident.

“It has to be a deliberate act, because the effort that would go into trying to cut into the bottom of one of these transformers is fairly significant, it’s not that somebody could casually walk by and interact with it and cause damage,” he says.

“There’s no indication that there is any attempt to steal anything inside the transformer, so that tells me it is just deliberate, wanton vandalism.”

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Not only is the equipment expensive to fix and the outages inconvenient, it’s also extremely dangerous.

“Most importantly, a danger presented to the person who is committing these offenses, members of the public who might be near to the equipment, and our employees that have to go and repair the equipment,” he says.

Knowles says whoever is targeting the boxes is cutting into the base of the transformer and spilling the mineral oil inside. That generally causes the equipment to trip and shut off.

“But if the equipment didn’t trip for any reason, then it creates a lot of heat, and that mineral oil can set on fire, and there can be an explosion in the transformer box, so significant present danger to members of the public nearby,” he says.

With dry weather, there’s the added risk of this causing a grass fire.

It’s not just BC Hydro and its customers that are being hit financially either: in one case, the damage caused an outage at a large grocery store for a few days.

– With files from Hana Mae Nassar