Ask Janet: Horns and Diesel

Energy Supply, Reliability, Safety

Jun 28, 2017  Comment

Today’s question: Why am I hearing a siren going off frequently from the area of the Whitehorse dam, and why are you running diesel right now? I thought you only needed diesel in the cold winter months.

Thank you for your questions. As part of our safety commitment to the public and our employees, we have implemented new safety features at our Whitehorse dam, as well as at the Marsh Lake control structure. A horn now sounds and a light flashes to warn of a sudden increase in river levels as a result of water being released through our spillways.

The horn operates between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The light flashes any time that water levels are about to rise.

When this happens, please move well back from the edge of the river.

Our decision to make these changes came as a result of input from Yukoners and a review of our dam safety practices.

The reason you are hearing the horn frequently right now is that our largest Whitehorse hydro unit is undergoing maintenance, and so we are releasing water through our spillgates more often than normal. Once the unit is back online (likely the end of this month), the horn won’t sound nearly as often.

You also asked why we are burning diesel. We had issues yesterday on one of our transmission lines that meant we did not have access to generation out of our Aishihik plant. With our largest Whitehorse unit offline for maintenance, and Aishihik not available to us, we used our backup diesel generators for a short while yesterday.

We also run each of our diesels for about an hour once a month, to ensure they are working properly.


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