Lights go out in Tumbler Ridge
Trent Ernst, Editor
An unmarked power line was uncovered by workers installing services to the new Monkman Commons Development, causing a power outage for many residents on the lower bench.
On October 13 at 12:31, the lights went out for about 167 households on the lower bench, mostly in the apartment buildings on Chamberlain Crescent, after a backhoe working on the Monkman Commons project uncovered a BC Hydro line.
According to BC Hydro representative Bob Gammar, the power was out for over 24 hours, coming back the next day at 2:04 in the afternoon, though some residents report the power coming on after only eight hours.
John Lehners of the engineering firm Beairsto, Lehners, Ketchum says they took all measures necessary to determine if any lines were present at the dig location prior to construction, including calling BC Hydro twice and walking the area with BC Hydro staff to determine the locations of power lines in the area. “We’re starting construction, and we needed to tie into that manhole,” says Lehners. “We had gone to BC Hydro a couple of times looking for locations of powerlines in the area, but no one seems to have any indication that the power line was there.”
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incident. “In this case, the actual short was back in the hole. The workers heard a boom a little bit away. These things are potentially life-threatening, if someone is in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
According to Lehner, maps of the area did not indicate any lines in that area, either.
According to Graham Johnson of Northern Lands Development Corp., when the lines were hit, the company went around and offered individuals in the nearby apartments a free stay in any of the local hotels. “Some individuals took us up on the offer.”
Johnson says the company sincerely apologizes for the outage, and promises the company “will take steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
The outage caused some delays on the project, but hopefully, says Johnson, the road will be open “before your next edition.”