Statement from Chris O’Riley on BC Utilities Commission direction
Last month, we shared the result of our third-party investigation into what caused the fire and explosion in the underground electrical vault in downtown Vancouver in February. The investigation found the fire was caused by a build-up of combustible gases, which occurred because of a leaking gasket in the lid of an oil-filled switch. The gasket leak was caused by the use of incompatible materials when the gasket was repaired and maintained over time – and the use of such materials was a concerning gap in our procedures with these aging vaults. Through our own investigation, we also uncovered that the serious public and worker safety risks associated with this piece of equipment in the event of a failure had been identified in 2016.
This incident should not have happened. As I shared on June 22, we take full responsibility for what occurred, and on behalf of BC Hydro, I sincerely apologize to the individuals who were injured and to the businesses that were impacted, as well as those who live or work nearby and our employees.
Today, our regulator, the BC Utilities Commission, has directed BC Hydro to proceed with an independent third-party report examining the root cause of the fire and explosion, our safety and asset management practices as well as work procedures and quality control processes. We are fully supportive of this direction and this work will be overseen by our Board of Directors who are independent from management and appointed by our Shareholder, the Government of BC.
I want to reiterate our commitment to ensuring this never happens again. In addition to the independent third-party report being requested by our regulator, we’ve also decommissioned the type of equipment used in the vault involved in this incident across our system as of April 1 and there is a review of all distribution street vault equipment well underway.
Public and worker safety has and always will be our top priority. And while this incident does not reflect that, we are committed to fully participating in the review and making sure public and employee safety come first.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468