Construction work severs communications to Northern Peninsula

Juris
Juris Graney
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

“Perfect storm” of events plunges region into darkness

The cause of last Wednesday's blackouts, which affected 400 households in Cook's Harbour, St. Anthony and townships from St. Lunaire-Griquet to L'anse aux Meadows, appears to have been caused in part by a device designed to prevent extensive and expensive damage to Hydro equipment.

The cause of last Wednesday's blackouts, which affected 400 households in Cook's Harbour, St. Anthony and townships from St. Lunaire-Griquet to L'anse aux Meadows, appears to have been caused in part by a device designed to prevent extensive and expensive damage to Hydro equipment.

Merissa Wiseman, senior communication advisor with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, told the Pen late last week that power was first tripped at 10am on Wednesday and tripped another three more times forcing a prolonged blackout that in some cases wasn't restored until 4.30pm.

Four lineworkers and three ground workers were forced to manually patrol 90km of line to find the cause.

"In this case they couldn't find any problem but it turned out to be an internal problem with a re-closer switch," she said.

A re-closer is designed to prevent damage when power lines slap together in high winds. It causes brief blackouts, Ms. Wiseman said, however after four occasions it will shut down completely.

"That's because the damage could be a broken pole or other more serious damage," she said.

The crews were given little reprieve however as high winds combined with freezing rain and snow on Thursday to create a "perfect storm" of weather conditions that brought down power to 850 customers right across the northern tip of the peninsula and along the east coast.

On Thursday and Friday seven line workers, six ground workers, a supervisor and regional manager were all called on to return power to Englee, Bide Arm, Conche and parts of Roddickton.

Over two days, the crews were forced to replace three broken cross arms, two poles, 15 insulators, six guy wires, 20 sleeves and 100 metres of power line.

While it may sound like a lot, it is nothing compared to the Baie Verte Peninsula.

Some communities, including Ming's Arm, were without power for four days as crews needed to replace 150 cross arms, 300 insulators and in one area alone, 10km of line had to be rebuilt.

"Some of the crew members who had worked in that area for 20 to 30 years said they had never seen anything like it," Ms. Wiseman said.

"It was the perfect amount of moisture and temperature, a perfect storm."

Having lost power in the early hours of Thursday morning, Bide Arm rejoined the grid at 8.15pm on Thursday around the same time power came back on in Conche.

Power to Englee was finally restored at 3.20pm on Friday.

Conche was voluntarily put back into darkness at 4pm on Friday with crews required to do extra work on their lines however power was restored at 7.30pm.

In all 430customers were affected onFriday.

Meanwhile as Hydro employees worked to restore power, Bell Aliant technicians scrambled to restore connectivity to the region on Thursday.

According to the company's Sarah Levy, the 10 hour communications blackout, which affected 2500 customers on the lower part of the Northern Peninsula and many more north, was caused when their fibre optic cable was cut accidentally at a construction site.

While Ms. Levy was unable to give an exact location of the cut, she said that internet, long distance and cell phone services were lost at 2pm and not fully restored to towns of Trout River, Norris Point, Parson's Pond, Woody Point, Cow Head and Rocky Harbour until midnight.

RCMP Northern Peninsula District staff sergeant Trish MacCormack said that in times of crisis it was important to look out for each other.

"Be mindful of your neighbours, especially seniors that are living alone, to ensure >they are safe during a service outage," she said.

She also said it was important to acquaint yourself with those who might have access to a satellite phone or who might be an amateur radio operator if situations get really dire.

"If those options are not available and you need the immediate assistance of police, fire, or ambulance you should drive to the nearest police station, fire hall, or hospital as these locations might be staffed depending on what other emergencies they >are managing in their respective communities," she said.

jgraney@northernpen.ca

 

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Bell Aliant

Geographic location: Northern Peninsula, Conche, St. Anthony Roddickton Trout River Woody Point Cow Head

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments