Page 12 - WV811 2022 issue 4
P. 12

 Cross Bores: Out of Si
In almost 50 years of underground utility experiences, I will share with both of my regular readers that I’ve had firsthand experience dealing with cross bores. Fortunately, most cross bores are not filled with tragedy and mass destruction, but when it does happen, the late-night news channels raise the awareness of the dangers rapidly.
And for the most part, that’s how cross bores was moved from the “we should be careful” list to the “it’s critical we protect our people” list. Most in the industry knows that the topic of cross bores first entered industry, policy and public awareness in 1976 when a sewer drain cleaner hit a cross bored gas
line in Kenosha, Wisconsin causing an
explosion that resulted in two deaths, several injuries and mass destruction.
While this tragic incident brought national awareness of the potential dangers associated with cross-bores,
it naturally focused on the extremely dangerous scenario of a natural gas
line intersecting with a sewer line. It creates a clog that mirrors tree roots or other similar blockages that plumbers or drain cleaning companies have experienced many times in their careers that can turn south in a hurry. That danger created a policy in some areas of the country identified as “call before you clear.”
Logically, if the plumber thinks he isn’t required to dig, there is no need to call 811. However, as already outlined above, just because there are no external
signs of excavation on the property, the plumber might be unaware of potential danger caused by a cross bore.
No doubt, there are many reasons
to promote directional boring. This
is a technique designed to install underground pipelines without disturbing the surface, thereby preserving landscaping, roads and other above-ground features and in many cases the utility cost savings are significant. One Call dig laws across the country require most utilities to mark the location of existing utility lines; however, some industries and certain types of underground facility owners are not required to participate in the program in some states.
Many cross bores involve sewer laterals on private property, which are oft times
10 • West Virginia 811 2022, Issue 4

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