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Last updated: Saturday 17 June 2000 NATIONAL NEWS
Transformer Fire Burns PCBs and Briefly Cuts Power to Thousands
MONTREAL (CP) - A transformer containing toxic PCBs caught fire at an east-end power station Saturday morning, forcing brief evacuations from several hundred homes and leaving thousands without electricity.
"We're talking about a teaspoon (of PCBs) in a swimming pool," said Johane Savard, a spokeswoman for Hydro-Quebec, the provincial power utility. "It's not a significant amount."
Officials were trying to determine what caused the blaze, which firefighters, using a special foam, extinguished after about three hours.
About 300 homes were momentarily evacuated and almost 17,000 customers lost power after the fire began at 7:30 a.m.
"But everyone has had their electricity restored and people were quickly able to re-enter their homes," Savard said.
Tests were expected to determine whether the surrounding soil was contaminated.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are used as a cooling agent in oil and have been linked to cancer by scientific stud http://www.vancouversun.com/cgi-bin/newsite.pl?adcode=n-mm&modulename=national%20news&template=national&nkey=vs&filetype=fullstory&file=/cpfs/national/000617/n061724.html
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 17, 2000
"Officials said overheating in the transformer probably caused the blaze, which firefighters, using a special foam, extinguished after about three hours.
However, the specific cause and source of the fire would probably not be determined for several days, said Jean-Claude Lefebvre, another spokesman for Hydro-Quebec."
"Saturday's fire created a giant black cloud, estimated at more than a half-kilometre wide and several kilometres long. But despite the impressive volume of smoke, public health was not considered at risk."
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000.