SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 3, 2014

Utility replacing manhole covers in Salem

After blast, city asks National Grid to make covers more secure

SALEM — National Grid has agreed to a city request that it replace a handful of manhole covers downtown after an underground explosion this month blew four of them out of place.

There were no injuries during the Jan. 7 blast, but one vehicle was damaged when it was struck by one of the 120-pound covers. The explosion occurred apparently after an overloaded cable caused a transformer to fail at Front and Lafayette streets.

Sixteen covers near the intersection of Front, Central and Lafayette streets will be replaced with National Grid’s current standard model for new manholes, said company spokesman Jake Navarro.

“All manhole covers have some sort of holes in them,” said Navarro. “The new manhole covers are just going to have more and larger holes.”

Covers have holes in them for two reasons: first, because they allow gases to escape, thus minimizing the chance of accumulation and explosion, and second, because workers use them to test the air below ground before heading down to work, Navarro said.

Mayor Kim Driscoll had asked National Grid to look into making the covers more secure. One possible solution was a type of cover with latches that would allow it to rise only so far during an explosion, but this was apparently dropped in favor of the current model.

In addition to offering better ventilation, Navarro said the new covers have a wider diameter, will be easier for workers to remove and will require new frames, thus necessitating some street work.

He also said the company’s decision to replace the covers shouldn’t be taken to mean it expects future explosions in the area.

“We’re confident that the cause of the issues earlier in January has been resolved,” he said in an email. “Although you can never take the risk of underground disturbances down to zero, they occur very rarely, and there is no reason to expect issues in this particular location going forward.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

AP Video
US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran
Comments Tracker