06/27/2013 02:18 EDT | Updated 02/19/2014 11:59 EST

BC Hydro Workers Fired Amid Marijuana Grow Op Investigation

VANCOUVER - Five BC Hydro employees have been fired for violations the Crown corporation said include stealing company equipment and facilitating theft of electricity.

Hydro said Thursday a total of 18 employees were interviewed as part of an internal probe that the union says is related to marijuana grow-ops.

While three workers remain under investigation, ten others have returned to work.

"BC Hydro has a responsibility to protect the safety and security of B.C.’s electrical system, customers and employees and we take this responsibility very seriously," the company said in a written statement, adding that it hopes the actions of a small number of individuals do not overshadow the work of other employees.

Last week, a union spokesman representing Hydro workers said he believes the internal probe involves cases where employees did work on buildings that may have been housing grow-ops.

Doug McKay, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 258, said then that he believes the Crown corporation suspects the workers may have been abetting illegal operations. However, that claim was never confirmed by BC Hydro.

McKay said Thursday he is frustrated that BC Hydro has given him very few details about the investigation.

"My biggest problem is, I've got a bunch of people being prosecuted for no good reason," he said. "Eight people were brought back yesterday, given a letter saying, 'You've been exonerated of any wrongdoing,' but nothing else."

McKay said the five workers who were fired were all linemen. While Hydro did not specify details to him, McKay said he suspects one of the linemen was being investigated because when he moved to Canada several years ago, there was speculation he moved into a place that possibly housed a grow-op.

"But the fire department came by...and it was all cleared, there was nothing there," said McKay.

McKay said it is possible the company may have "some apples that were not good in the barrel," but he would first need to see what sort of evidence BC Hydro has against the workers who were fired.

"We do not condone anybody breaking the law, and we will deal with that," he said. "If we believe they are being prosecuted unjustly, we will take the company on."

BC Hydro said it has provided information to the RCMP, and the authorities will determine whether or not to pursue a criminal investigation.

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