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Copper Theft at Burlington Hydro Substation Poses Serious Safety Issues for Workers and the Public

Copper plays a vital role in a substation’s grounding system

Burlington, ON – A serious incident of copper theft took place recently at Burlington Hydro’s Bridgeview Substation, located in the hydro corridor on Plains Road West, west of Glenbrook Avenue. A quantity of copper wire was cut and stolen from the station compromising the safety of workers and the public.

“The substation grounding system is an essential part of the overall electrical system. These thieves compromised this by putting themselves, Burlington Hydro workers and the public at risk,” says Paul Heeg, Vice President, Engineering Services and Network Operations. “Grounding is an essential means for dissipating electrical current into the earth and provides a safe environment to protect workers and others in the vicinity of the station from the dangers of serious electrical shock.”

Stealing copper ground wire is a dangerous activity whenever the bond to ground is removed. In this case, most of the cut copper was located on the station fence where different sections of the fence and gates are bound together and where they are connected to the station ground grid. A section of the transformer ground was also cut.  Over 70 feet of copper gauge wire was required to make the needed repairs - repair costs that impact all Burlington Hydro customers. Thankfully no one was injured as a result of the incident.

Other locations in the City have also had ground wires cut from hydro poles.  Again, this results in a potentially dangerous situation for workers and the public.

The high price of copper has emboldened some individuals to undertake these dangerous thefts. Those actions can end very badly with the electrocution of the individual tampering with utility equipment. Removal of the copper ground also creates the potential for a major power outage.

 “Incidents of copper theft from our distribution infrastructure are deeply concerning,” says Gerry Smallegange, President and CEO.  “Safety is always our number one priority, so any activity that comprises our system and poses serious safety issues is taken very seriously. Thieves don’t always appreciate the degree of danger they expose themselves, or others to, in stealing copper from our distribution infrastructure.”

If anyone has any information about these incidents or if you see anyone suspicious tampering with utility equipment, please report it to Halton Regional Police at (905) 825-4777 or call Burlington Hydro at 1-877-310-4937.

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