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Maritime Electric reviewing security measures at Charlottetown’s electricity hub following incident

Maritime Electric is conduction an internal investigation of its energy control plant in Charlottetown following a Feb. 28 incident.
Maritime Electric is conduction an internal investigation of its energy control plant in Charlottetown following a Feb. 28 incident. - Mitsuki Mori
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Maritime Electric is conducting an internal review of its energy control plant in Charlottetown, following a Feb. 28 incident where a teenager entered the secured site and climbed up one of the smokestacks.

Police responded to a call from a 17-year-old Charlottetown girl who they describe as being “in emotional distress.”

Deputy Police Chief Sean Coombs said the girl had climbed about 100 feet up a smokestack before having “second thoughts” and needed help back down.

Dispatchers were able to keep the girl calm before the Charlottetown Fire Department arrived with a truck with a large ladder and were able to get her down.

The teen, who was up on the smokestack for over an hour, was not injured but was very cold and was taken to the QEH by ambulance for assessment.

Immediately following the incident, Maritime Electric employees did a review and walk-around of the site, and a full investigation involving a number of people, including the utility’s health and safety and environmental co-ordinators, will be conducted March 1.

Maritime Electric spokeswoman Kim Griffin said there has never been a break-in attempt at what the company refers to as Charlottetown’s electricity hub and said part of the investigation is to determine how the teen entered the property.

“We were on site last night, so we had some theories, but they want to do an internal investigation so that we understand if there are areas that we could improve.”

The site, which has employees on hand 24/7, has a number of safety measures in place to keep the public safe, including locks, fencing, security cameras and signage, Griffin said, adding the girl had entered a zoned-off area.

“It is not an easy feat or attempt to do so. It’s also extremely dangerous in the substation area around the energy control centre, so our employees were very concerned on a number of levels,” she said. “What we want to stress to the public is the fact that it is very dangerous. In addition to what happened last night, to break into our substation – these are high-voltage equipment areas and they’re dangerous. There’s a reason why they are barricaded off and there’s a reason why we have such grave concern for our customers from a security perspective.”

Griffin said Maritime Electric has a proposal before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to decommission the site, which will include removing the smokestacks.

“We’ve done a study, sent that to IRAC and submitted a plan, and now currently in front of the regulator is our general rate application,” she said, adding IRAC is still reviewing the application and that there might be a hearing in the summer.

Griffin said she and the rest of the Maritime Electric employees are pleased the incident ended without any injuries.

“It was a very, very cold night so we’re glad that the young woman is OK and that she was safe.”



MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

Know the risk factors and warning signs for suicide: cmha.ca/documents/preventing-suicide

How to get help: If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help, go to the nearest hospital, call 911, or call the province’s crisis line at 1-800-218-2885.

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