By RYAN KING
ROSE BLANCHE – HARBOUR LE COU — On Thursday, July 8, town officials released a public notice that stated debris and garbage had been left at Rose Blanche Brook, and that there was some damage reported to the power station.
The road leading to the power station is a popular route for ATV enthusiasts. Newfoundland Power had advised the town that if this kept happening, the company will have no other choice except to move the gate barring traffic closer to the roadway. This would block access to the power station road, something the town doesn’t want to see happen since the trail is so popular.
“We do not want to see this happen, so please do not take garbage/debris to the brook,” the notice stated. “If you are using this road for outings, please bring back all garbage/debris when you return. If you see someone dumping things illegally, report it.”
Town clerk Tammy Farrell explained via e-mail that the issue that brought about the notice was resolved, and there was no need for further follow up. However, inquiries with Newfoundland Power revealed that it might be more than just another case of illegal dumping. An ATV was set on fire in the area, and vehicle parts were left littering the area.
“There has not been an incident of vandalism involving Newfoundland Power property on the Southwest Coast. Apparently, there was an ATV (not associated with Newfoundland Power) burned and vandalized on the access road to our hydroelectric plant in the area,” said Michele Coughlan, Manager of Public Affairs for Newfoundland Power.
This is not a new problem for Newfoundland Power. In recent months the company’s properties across the island have been subjected to vandalism and theft.
“Newfoundland Power is extremely concerned with the recent frequency of acts of vandalism to the province’s electricity system. There have been break-ins at four of the Company’s high voltage facilities over the last couple of months. Vandals illegally entered these facilities, caused damage to electrical equipment and stole copper grounding wire that was connected to the high voltage electricity grid,” stated Coughlan.
Additionally, approaching any property of Newfoundland Power can be fraught with danger, as is the case with the Rose Blanche power station, where individuals risk electrocution.
“Entering high voltage substations to steal grounding wire, which is an important part of a substation’s protection system, is extremely dangerous. This type of activity creates a serious safety risk for Newfoundland Power employees, contractors, the general public and the vandals themselves,” said Coughlan. “Our employees’ lives are unnecessarily put in harm’s way when they have to subsequently enter these facilities to make repairs.”
Even a smaller vehicle on fire, like the ATV, being so close to the power station means that a similar incident could prove disastrous for more than just NL Power equipment.
“These acts of theft and vandalism can also have a direct impact on customers, as lengthy outages are often the result to allow our crews time to safely make repairs to the province’s electricity system. We continue to remind the public to stay away from high voltage electrical equipment and to help put a stop to this dangerous, illegal activity by reporting any suspicious activity. At Newfoundland Power, we take these types of incidents very seriously and every incident is reported to the police for further investigation,” said Coughlan.
Mayor Clayton Durnford acknowledged that an ATV fire did take place and shared that the town’s issued notice did appear to prompt some action.
“After that, whoever got a hold of it, went back and cleaned it up. We did put the notice, between the town and (NL) Light and Power, if it continues, we would have to block the road completely. That’s what would happen there. They (NL Power) would move the gate in, so that they couldn’t get around it,” confirmed Durnford. “As far as old trike parts and stuff, I was told that whoever was up to their badness, when they got ahold to it, they went back up there and cleaned it up.”
The mayor also promised that the town will keep monitoring to prevent similar incidents from cropping up in the future.