Routine maintenance on BC Hydro powerlines and an incident at Rio Tinto’s BC Works lead to Kitimat being left without power for nearly four hours on Sunday, July 7.
Though seemingly unrelated, the two incidents occurring simultaneously created a situation where the district was left with no backup power, affecting over 5,000 BC Hydro clients.
BC Hydro spokesperson Dave Mosure said as part of the multi-million dollar project to refurbish BC Hydro’s transmission lines between Kitimat and Terrace, the power to Kitimat was cut to ensure the safety of BC Hydro crews performing maintenance work.
While the power was off the district was switched over to BC Work’s Kemano Generating Station network, a situation which Mosure said would have gone totally unnoticed by users in the district had it not been for the incident at BC Works.
“An incident, initially a suspected lightning strike, tripped the supply of power from Kemano to Kitimat at about 4:11 p.m., leaving the community with no power. BC Hydro worked to bring its Kitimat to Terrace line back into service earlier than planned and power was restored just before 8 p.m.,” said Mosure.
Rio Tinto BC Works spokesperson Kevin Dobbin confirmed that the plant had experienced a 40-minute power interruption.
“An operator on the reduction line noticed an issue with a pot and made the right decision to do an emergency stop. The emergency stop cut off all power to the reduction lines,” said Dobbin.
The reduction line consists of a number of pots, in which a strong electrical current is passed through alumina to produce hot liquid aluminium.
“Thanks to the expertise and quick intervention of our employees, the impact was minimized. The restart and actions were quickly put in place – everything was done in order and in a safe manner,” said Dobbin.