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
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Comments Tracker