POLE PO­SI­TION

Res­i­dent calls on NSP to move power line fol­low­ing fire

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nancy.king@cb­post.com

Res­i­dent calls on NSP to move power line fol­low­ing fire.

A busi­ness op­er­a­tor in the Neils Har­bour area is call­ing for the re­lo­ca­tion of a power line from a wooded area af­ter a tree fall­ing on the line caused a wild­fire Wednesday.

Os­borne Burke, gen­eral man­ager of Vic­to­ria Co-op­er­a­tive Fish­eries Ltd., said peo­ple in the area have been ad­vo­cat­ing for the repo­si­tion­ing of the line for years, say­ing its lo­ca­tion is re­spon­si­ble for re­peated lengthy power out­ages.

“The big is­sue in this area with con­tin­ual power fail­ures that we’ve been hav­ing is the stretch from Black Brook Bridge gen­er­ally down to Neils Har­bour be­cause the power line is off the road in the woods and Nova Sco­tia Power … I guess they don’t want to spend the money to bring the gosh-darn power line out to the road,” Burke said.

“What the hell are they go­ing to do for the peo­ple of north­ern Cape Bre­ton, tak­ing those poles and putting them out by the road like they’ve been do­ing in other ar­eas?”

Burke de­scribed con­di­tions where lo­cal NSP crews have had to travel through waist-deep snow in bliz­zard con­di­tions to re­spond to out­ages. He said they’ve raised the is­sue over the years with Nova Sco­tia Power and they re­sponded by step­ping up tree trim­ming. Trim­ming veg­e­ta­tion along the lines is im­por­tant, he said, but doesn’t go far enough to rec­tify the is­sue.

Crews bat­tled a wild­fire near Neils Har­bour on Wednesday but man­aged to get it un­der con­trol be­fore it could spread. The four-hectare fire started late Wednesday af­ter­noon about a kilo­me­tre south of Buchanan Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in­side the Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park.

Nine Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources fire­fight­ers, Parks Canada staff and a num­ber of lo­cal vol­un­teer fire de­part­ments re­sponded to the scene.

Burke said at one point dur­ing Wednesday’s fire, of­fi­cials con­sid­ered evac­u­at­ing the hos­pi­tal.

He noted the co-op has a gen­er­a­tor for its lob­ster pound but it had to shut its pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity down early for the day due to the loss of power, which he said is not good for equip­ment

“I guess they don’t want to spend the money to bring the gosh-darn power line out to the road.”

- Os­borne Burke, gen­eral man­ager of Vic­to­ria Co-op­er­a­tive Fish­eries Ltd.

or for em­ploy­ees who lost hours of work as a re­sult.

Burke stressed he rec­og­nizes the hard work done by lo­cal lines­men in the area.

In an email, NSP spokesper­son Tif­fany Chase wrote that, due to gusty winds, a tree fell on a power line in the Neils Har­bour area, re­sult­ing in a pole fire that quickly es­ca­lated in the very dry ground con­di­tions.

“Our crews im­me­di­ately re­sponded, how­ever, the fire was at a scale larger than our crews could safely man­age,” Chase wrote. “Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources took over fight­ing the fire, and once we had con­firmed it was ex­tin­guished, we safely re­stored power to af­fected cus­tomers.”

Chase said the pri­vate util­ity has in­creased tree trim­ming and right of way widening in the area over the past few years and spent $1 mil­lion in Vic­to­ria County last year, to min­i­mize the risk of tree con­tacts on power lines.

“These lines run through a heav­ily-treed area of the Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park, and there­fore we need to bal­ance our goal of pro­vid­ing a re­li­able ser­vice to cus­tomers and main­tain­ing the nat­u­ral forested ar­eas of the park,” Chase said.

She said the tree that fell was lo­cated out­side of the right of way. NSP was back on­site in the area again Thursday to iden­tify other po­ten­tial tree haz­ards that should be trimmed or cut back to re­duce the risk of sim­i­lar out­ages.

Chase said the power line is not cur­rently slated to be moved.

“We will con­tinue to closely mon­i­tor ser­vice re­li­a­bil­ity in this area,” she said. “If re­li­a­bil­ity con­tin­ues to be chal­lenged we would then look at other, more costly mea­sures such as mov­ing the line it­self. We also have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the aes­thet­ics of such in­fra­struc­ture against the back­drop of the na­tional park set­ting.”

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