Page 15 - MS811 2022 issue 4
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tools and other devices that allow electric, gas and communication lines to be installed with minimal interruption to the surface, cross bore incidents have been on the rise. And typically, those cross bore incidents involve branches of a sewer line that aren’t part of the locate request.
When an unmapped sewer line is expected — like
in a residential or commercial utility right-of-way — workers should take extra care to locate all buried obstacles. Lines can be located by inserting a metal fish tape into the plastic or terra cotta pipe at the house’s sewer clean-out access point and using sensing equipment at the surface to locate the approximate location of the facility. Specialized ground-penetrating radar can also be used to locate plastic pipes without a tracer wire, Lance said.
No matter how the line is located, CGA considers “potholing,” or exposing the third-party facility, to be the best way to avoid the danger of a cross bore incident and other types of facility damage.
“If you expose the third-party utility, you can see it. You can see your bore go across it without damaging it. You have a visual indication that no damage occurred. Exposing and potholing are considered best practices by CGA,” Lance said.
But when care isn’t taken and a sewer line is compromised by another utility, it creates a ticking time bomb scenario in someone’s backyard.
“There’s no immediate indication of damage to a sewer line,” Lance said. “If due diligence isn’t taken to locate the facility and someone bores through a sewer line and pulls their facilities back through, they might
not know right away,” Lance said. “If you cut a water line, water flows immediately. If you cut a gas line, gas blows. If you cut an electric line, someone’s power goes off. With a sewer line, it may take months or years for a clog to form where the lines cross, and eventually it clogs enough for someone to call a plumber.”
But an overflowing toilet, however inconvenient, isn’t the real hazard presented in cross bore incidents.
When a business or homeowner calls a plumber to clear out their sewer, they have no idea there’s a cross bore situation creating the clog under the ground. If the plumber doesn’t inspect the pipe with a camera before using a mechanized plumber’s snake, widely known as a Roto-Rooter, a deadly utility strike could occur, Lance said. The metal cutting surface of the snake is intended to cut through tree roots, but in several instances, they have sliced through gas lines and electrical conduit within the sewer line, resulting in explosions, fire, death and other injuries to workers and bystanders. The Common Ground Alliance and other groups are getting the word out to plumbers and other workers
to make them aware of the possibility of cross bore situations.
Using CGA best practices and anticipating unmapped lateral sewer lines in the field, utility workers can avoid cross boring of utilities and ensure their safety — and the safety of others.
Every job, every time.
CenterPoint Energy training is focused on making sure your leadership and field personnel understand the 811 state laws, safe digging best practices, and other tips to help your projects be completed damage free without the delays and expenses of cutting a natural gas line. Most importantly, it is critical we cover how to stay safe in the event of a cut natural gas line.
  Our training also covers the steps to prevent natural gas ignition, explosion, and inherent risks should blowing gas from a damaged pipeline occur in your community.
To schedule your training session, email
  2022, Issue 4
Mississippi 811 • 13

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