Kununurra outage sparks $40k fine
Regional electricity provider Horizon Power has been fined $40,000 for unsafe work which caused a fire and phone service outages in the East Kimberley.
Last Tuesday the Perth Magistrates Court found incorrect work in Kununurra had caused a fire and the telecommunications equipment at various properties to become potentially unsafe.
The court heard when Horizon Power personnel were replacing a network transformer pole on Weaber Plains Road, Kununurra in October 2017, a linesperson incorrectly re-connected an aerial bundled cable active conductor to a neutral conductor for unmetered supply equipment.
This caused a nearby Telstra communications node to be supplied with 415 volts rather than the usual 230 volts.
With the connection not properly tested before work was completed, the error was only discovered when a fire broke out at Telstra equipment that had become live on a private property six kilometres away.
In November 2017 The Kimberley Echo reported several businesses, including The Hoochery and Kimberley Agricultural Investment, lost their landlines and EFTPOS services because of the incident with some waiting over one week for a fix.
At the time KAI general manager Jim Engelke said there had been a fire in its server room, where its phone lines entered the building, on the day of the outage.
Kalyn Fletcher, from The Hoochery and RB Dessert Seed, said the outage had affected the fire alarm, security alarms, EFTPOS and point-of-sale programs.
Department of Mines, Industry regulation and safety energy safety executive director Saj Abdoolakhan said he welcomed the penalty imposed by the court.
“We take electrical safety extremely seriously and, when an incident occurs, the department conducts the necessary thorough investigations which in this case has led to a successful prosecution,” he said.
“Any company participating in a regulated industry must ensure there are adequate checks in place so staff follow safety procedures correctly, especially when the consequences are so serious as to jeopardise not only their own safety, but that of the general public as well."
Horizon Power was also ordered to pay $1,516.40 in costs, after earlier pleading guilty to breaching the Electricity Regulations 1947.
The Kimberley Echo has reached out to Horizon Power and Telstra for comment.
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