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‘EXPLODING PAVEMENTS’ INCREASE THREEFOLD

HSE concerned that underground explosions could cause death

It has been reported by the BBC that HSE fears London residents are at risk from the “increasing number of pavement explosions” in the city. 

Figures obtained by BBC London show reported incidents of underground explosions more than tripled between 2011 and 2012 with 12 ‘blasts’ in the current year.

UK Power Networks says it has increased inspections and is making a significant investment in testing underground equipment. There have been no deaths but John Steed, HSE Principal Specialist Electrical Inspector has warned that “a fatality could happen” adding: 

“It is my concern, yes. That’s why I’m having regular meetings with UK Power Networks. I’m testing them. It’s their risk.”

An HSE investigation into one incident resulted in an Improvement Notice being issued to UK Power Networks for failing to report a fault it knew about 12 months earlier. Mr Steed said:

“Worse than that, on the day that it blew up they actually sent some staff out to do some testing work at fault locations, including that box itself. So they put their own staff at risk. “

Matt Rudling, director of customer services at UK Power Networks told the BBC: 

“We have about 100,000 boxes in the pavements of London and about 36,000km of underground cable. We have relatively few cases when our equipment has faltered. Sometimes that’s due to other parties coming into contact with our equipment. For example, someone may be digging the street, sometimes water can gain access into our equipment, fortunately these are very rare but they will cause our equipment to fail.”

Recent mobile phone footage captured a large explosion from beneath a pavement in Pimlico in south London with a pedestrian a few feet away.

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