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The Shocking Truth

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 3:40 AM

NBCSL Policy Committee Jurisdiction: Energy, Transportation, and Environment

Applicable Resolution: ETE-12-05


Everyone has felt some low level form of static electricity, such electrostatic shock when touching a metal object in the winter. But, touching a light post, manhole cover, or fence that is in contact with frayed wire can be very dangerous. The worst part is one may never see the wire in question, making him or her completely vulnerable. Further complicating the problem is the decaying infrastructure across the country. Similar to the decay of roads and water infrastructure over time, electrical equipment also decays, and the equipment is struggling to keep up with the demand. Humans are not the only ones at risk; pets, unlike their human counterparts, are not wearing rubber shoes that protect them should they step on a cover or other conductive surface that could shock them. Pets are also unable to effectively communicate when they are shocked.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that it would cost $107 billion to keep our electrical equipment in good working order. Rolling black outs and inefficiencies in the United States electrical grid are estimated to cost $80 billion per year. The City of Seattle was originally told last year by its electric provider that 56 streetlights and covers had conducted electricity over 30 volts (anything under 50 volts is considered nonlethal); however, upon further review by the electric provider that number almost tripled to 156 instances.


This past December, NBCSL passed a resolution at its Annual Legislative Conference titled “PROTECTING THE PUBLIC FROM SERIOUS INJURY AND DEATH CAUSED BY CONTACT VOLTAGE IN OUR COMMUNITIES” sponsored by Representative Alan Williams (FL). The resolution calls on legislators to increase awareness of this unknown problem by informing their constituents and working with their regulators to ensure certain steps are taken to encourage public safety. In the months since the passage of the aforementioned resolution, bills have been passed in Maryland and Rhode Island to increase surveying by public utility companies to find where problems may exist.


New York City’s Story

Most often, voltage dangers have been addressed reactively, such as after a person or pet dies, due to a lack of visibility of and foreknowledge about the problem. In New York, for example, Jodie Lane, a doctoral student at Columbia University died in 2004 from contact voltage while walking her dogs. The state regulator mandated that the state scan all of its assets as well as Department of Transportation assets for stray voltage. Quickly, the state’s regulator became aware of the extent of the problem—New York found over 34,000 energized objects between 2004 and 2009.

This revelation facilitated the development of a new, mobile scan technology to replace the manual testing of every object. Mobile scanning technology allows for increased detection, which has resulted in more repairs and data to monitor progress. Data showed that the number of people who reported being shocked dropped from 285 in 2004 to 84 in 2009


Maryland’s Story

On May 5, 2006, in Baltimore, Maryland while 14-year-old Deanna Camille was playing softball, she was electrocuted by 277 volts when she touched a fence connected to a buried power line. In the wake of that tragedy, Deanna’s parents have relentlessly sought to bring attention to this largely ignored issue. They have traveled the country petitioning lawmakers to take action. The Green family attended NBCSL’s 35th Annual Legislative Conference in Chicago, Illinois to raise awareness.

Anthony “Bubba” Green and his wife Nancy Arrington-Green worked with state officials in Maryland to implement regulation that would target potentially high-risk areas. The Green family, however, would not settle for a regulation they believed did not go far enough. The family continued to push for additional regulation, and the Maryland legislature passed a bill, which was the first of its kind at the state level.

Title - House Bill 520, Electric Companies - Contact Voltage - Surveys and Mitigation - The Deanna Camille Green Act of 2012

Summary - The bill requires certain electric companies to file with the Public Service Commission for approval of a list of, or voltage survey plan for, newly created contact voltage risk zones on or before September 1, 2012. The bill also requires an electric company to conduct surveys of objects and surfaces, such as streetlights or lampposts, that are within contact voltage risk zones.


  • Increases scanning for stray and contact voltage in the state;
  • Increases oversight of scanning to ensure that screening actually takes place;
  • Increases safety for public areas that are most at risk for contact voltage; and
  • Increases reporting of contact and stray voltage.

Concerns - The electric provider in state was particularly concerned about the increased cost of surveying. There are concerns that the bill should cover the entire state and that this action will only impact certain areas of the state.


Rhode Island’s Story

In Providence, Rhode Island, a Labrador puppy was electrocuted while walking down the street due to underground wiring that had deteriorated and energized a section of the asphalt.


Summary - The law calls for the identification of Contact Voltage Risk Zones and the immediate establishment of a plan to scan these areas within defined time limits using the best available technology. This law requires the Public Utilities Commission and the Rhode Island Division of Utilities and Carriers to establish a program to require electric utilities to conduct voltage detection surveys and complete timely repairs of faults contributing to contact voltage.


  • Increases scanning for stray and contact voltage in the state;
  • Does not limit scanning to merely the assets owned by the electric provider, but rather all assets touched by the electric provider;
  • Increases safety for public areas that are most at risk for contact voltage; and
  • Increases reporting of contact and stray voltage.

Concerns - The electric provider in the state was particularly concerned about the increased cost of surveying; so the bill established contact voltage risk zones so that it does not cover the entire state.

What Can Your State Do

Below is a list of similar policies your state can examine: 

  • Requiring and encouraging your utility providers to scan for stray voltage is undoubtedly the most successful tool that legislators have at their disposal to ensure these problems do not happen in your community. Increased scanning will help to find the problem areas.
  • Informing your constituents about the issue and encouraging them to report any stray voltage or live wires they encounter to the utility or other entity responsible for the problem.
  • Increase the reporting of stray voltage; the best way to know about how large this problem is, is to understand how often it happens. Currently, the greatest challenge with this problem is understanding where and how often it occurs.


 Resources - The Green Family’s website devoted to preventing further harm from contact voltage - Dealing with the steps taken in New York City following the death of Jodie Lane - a website dedicated to providing information about contact voltage across the United States Consolidated Edison’s website which discusses how they address contact voltage and shows how it is detected

Family Wants Lawmakers To Pass A Bill Protecting People From Stray Voltage

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — The family of a Baltimore County teenager electrocuted in a city park is pushing lawmakers to prevent it from happening again.


Weijia Jiang has more on the huge rally to help them fight.


Deanna Green would have turned 20 this week, but her life was cut short at 14 when she was electrocuted by stray voltage.


“We don’t want this to happen again. We don’t want anyone to feel how we feel, to go through what we have and what we’ll go through until we’re six feet under,” said Nancy Green, Deanna’s mother.


On Tuesday, Green’s parents, Nancy and Bubba—a former Baltimore Colt—led a rally at the state capital to push lawmakers to pass a bill named after their daughter.



In 2008, Deanna died after touching a metal fence at Druid Hill Park. It was on top of an exposed wire underground; 227 volts jolted through her.


The law would require utility companies to check wires underground anywhere the current flows, like near sidewalks, street lights and manhole covers.


“In order to find the problem that killed our daughter, surveying needs to be done and we feel this is the way to find it and repair it,” said Bubba Green.


The Greens are not only fighting here in Annapolis, they’re traveling across the country because they say what happened to Deanna could happen anywhere.


“It’s still unreal and unbelievable that could just happen,” said Noah Pielow.


Noah Pielow , along with dozens of others, traveled from New York City and Washington D.C. to support the bill.


“Our concern is this is a silent killer,” said CORE Executive Director George Holmes.


One the Greens hope never claims another life.


“I could not…I could not sleep if I were doing nothing,” Nancy Green said.


Right now, subcommittees in both the House and Senate are considering the bill. They could vote sometime this week.


The Greens have also filed a lawsuit against the city of Baltimore. A judge has not made a ruling yet.

WUSA 9 Wins Murrow Award For Hidden Dangers Story

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- 9News Now's Consumer unit featuring Lesli Foster is a recipient of a 2012 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award. The Radio Television Digital News Association officially announced the honor on Thursday.


Since 1971, the Radio Television Digital News Association has given the Edward R. Murrow Awards to various electronic journalism outlets. According to RTNDA, "Murrow's pursuit of excellence in journalism embodies the spirit of the awards that carry his name. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession."


9News Now anchor Lesli Foster, senior producer Stephanie Wilson, photographer Felix Ortiz and editor Al Calogero produced the winner of Region 12's Television - Large Market category for Video Reporting: Hard News for the WUSA-TV report "Stray Voltage: A Silent Danger."


You can watch the award-winning piece in the video above.


The winners had this to say about the honor:


"We are excited to know that our efforts to expose a problem that puts all of us at risk has garnered this kind of attention. We hope that our story helps to save others and to inform our community about a hidden danger. All of us are thinking of the family of Deanna Green too and their efforts to make sure their daughter's death wasn't in vain."

Family of girl electricuted after leaning on fence is pushing for tougher inspection law

Posted on March 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM

A committee vote on a bill that would require utilities to inspect all underground power cables for stray voltage could come as early as today.

The family of Deanna Green is pushing for the bill. Green was just 14 years old when she touched a fence at a softball field in Druid Hill Park back in May of 2006. The fence had been electrified by a damaged underground cable.

Green died at the softball field; her mother saw it happen.

“She was just there, not aware, not listening. I was calling for her, Deanna? Deanna? No response. And then I saw her just falling,” Nancy Green said.

Last year -- after lobbying from the Greens -- the state's Public Service Commission ordered electrical testing of parks and recreational areas around the state.

“It doesn't get any easier we've just gotten stronger. We've gotten stronger to fight for what's right,” said Deanna’s father, Anthony Green.

Now the Greens say the PSC’s regulation doesn't go far enough. They're calling on the General Assembly to pass what they are calling the "Deanna Camille Green Act of 2012.”

It would force public utilities to inspect all underground electrical wires, statewide. “The wires are decaying, and they're fraying and electricity is seeping into the ground. In the right condition, it will kill someone,” Anthony Green said.

Testing would be done with a special truck that it detects stray voltage as it drives around, allowing technicians to find and repair underground wires.

The Greens say they've gotten resistance from utility companies; they hope their story will convince legislators in Annapolis to think about what happened, and what could happen again. “I just want the delegates to go home and look at their own children,” Anthony Green said. “And ask themselves how would they feel if this was their children. How far would they have carried this if this was their children. Would they have given up the fight? We haven't given up the fight and we won't give up the fight.”

A vote on the Deanna Green Act could come up as early as Thursday in the House Economic Matters Committee.



Read more:

Contact Voltage: The Invisible Danger That Killed Our Daughter

Posted on March 14, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Huffington Post: By Mr. Anthony “Bubba’ Green & Mrs. Nancy A. Green


On May 5, 2006, our daughter, Deanna Camille Green, was electrocuted and killed after she touched a normal everyday fence that was electrified by current leaking from a faulty underground electric cable. We now know, this dangerous condition known as “contact voltage” has taken the lives of countlesspeople and pets across the country.


May 5 started as a typical day for the Green family, but would end in tragedy at approximately 8:30 pm. Our lives would never again be the same. Dad took Deanna to school and as he dropped her off, he told her he loved her and would see her on Sunday because he was going to the Men’s Retreat for Church. I took our son, Tony to school that morning, knowing he would somehow make it to end his day on the sales floor at work. As I headed to work I was anxiously anticipating picking Deanna up at the end of the work day for the start of a weekend with a double-header softball game.


At about 5:15 p.m. Deanna and I started our drive into the City for the game. Along the way we stopped for a bite to eat, shared some girl talk about starting high school, plans for the summer, driving and singing. During a pause in our conversation, I reached over and stoked her cheek and told her I loved her, not knowing this would be the last time she would hear me say those words.


Once we arrived at the park and Deanna changed into the black slacks I had brought with me as “a just in case she forgot,” both teams gathered at the pitcher’s mound for prayer. Around the bottom of the first inning it was starting to get dark. The umpire went to the box, flipped the switch and turned on the field lights. Little did we know, he had just turned on the death switch.


Death is difficult. Seeing death come is difficult. Electricity is a silent killer. Unless you’ve seen your child electrocuted right before your eyes, you can never know how I feel. You can never understand what I experienced that horrific day, everyday, and for all the days to come. No one can know of my helplessness. No one can understand how worthless I felt as a mother that night when I failed to protect my daughter.


On May 5, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland, Deanna Camille Green, at the tender age of fourteen was electrocuted on a metal safety fence that had become electrified by electricity leaking from damaged underground cable.


Since Deanna’s death, we have educated ourselves about the danger that killed our daughter. When underground electric utility cable has reached its useful life or become damaged, it can leak electricity. Electricity is not selective. It energizes all conductive surfaces in its proximity including sidewalks, manholes, roadways, and fences that people and pets come in contact with.


Those conductive surfaces must be tested to find and fix hazards buried beneath the ground. While all surface level structures are not owned by utilities, the buried cable beneath them certainly is, and it is the source of these hazards.


In 2011, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) passed a set of regulations requiring utilities to perform comprehensive contact voltage tests in city parks. This will ensure public safety in our parks by testing all structures and surfaces capable of conducting electricity. Unfortunately, the Maryland regulations ignore the greater risk in our streets, around our schools, or in our neighborhoods.


The Maryland PSC has defined certain cities and public areas as “Contact Voltage Risk Zones.” Within these zones, current Maryland regulations call for utilities to test only manhole covers and streetlights for leaking voltage. Since contact voltage is the result of failing underground cable, tests of manhole covers and streetlights ignore the greatest area of risk stemming from the aging and leaking buried cable beneath our feet. It was a leaking underground cable that killed our daughter, not a manhole or streetlight.


To address this issue, Maryland State legislators have filed a bill requiring utilities to performtesting of all energized conductive surfaces in our streets, just as they are required to perform in our parks. These tests have been performed across New York City for years and have proven successful in reducing public shock incidents.


There is no excuse or justification for the PSC and utilities to provide greater safety in parks than the areas they call “Risk Zones” where we live, work, and play.


If utilities are allowed to ignore various structures their equipment has electrified, who will test and fix them? Should the postal service test their mailboxes for voltage leaks caused by the utility? Should business owners test their fences for underground utility cable faults? Should residents test the sidewalks in front of their homes for utility cable leaks in the ground beneath them? Utilities cannot be allowed ignore any structure or surface which their aging infrastructure has caused to become an electrified public hazard.


Our mission is to prevent others from going through what we have suffered. We never heard of this danger until it was too late. As members of the public, we rely on our utilities and the PSC to keep our family safe from such problems. We urge readers to reach out to the Maryland’s House Economic Matter committee and Public Utilities Subcommittee and urge them to pass House Bill 520 to make our streets safe for pedestrians and pets.


By voting in favor of this House Bill 520, legislators have a chance to speak on behalf of the families and lives this bill will protect. We would give anything to have been afforded those same protections.


Anthony “Bubba” Green is a former NFL defensive lineman. He and his wife Nancy lost their daughter Deanna Green in 2006 when she was electrocuted by contact voltage in Baltimore, Maryland. Following Deanna’s death, Mr. and Mrs. Green embarked on a mission to educate others about the dangers posed by aging electrical infrastructure, and advocate for improvements in public electrical safety. The Green’s story has been featured by major national news outlets including CBS, FOX, and NBC. The Green’s were recently recognized by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators when the organization adopted a resolution adding the contact voltage to their 2012 policy agenda.

WJZ Investigation Uncovers Decaying Wires Emitting Electrical Currents

Posted on October 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s action taken following a WJZ investigation. Now Baltimore City and BGE take steps in response to dangerous stray voltage found across the city.

Vic Carter reports it is electricity that has the potential to kill.

A WJZ investigation uncovers decaying wires emitting dangerous — even deadly — electrical currents all over the city of Baltimore.

The death of 14-year-old Deanna Greene brought the severity of the problem to light. She was electrocuted at Druid Hill Park when she touched a fence in contact with a decaying underground wire.

Her parents were devastated.

“I tell my wife all the time, ‘You brought her into this world and she went out in your arms,’” said Anthony Greene, victim’s father.

WJZ wanted to know how widespread the problem was. Eyewitness News rode all over Baltimore with highly-trained experts. Their sensitive equipment found street lights, manhole covers and metal grates pulsing with electricity on many of the city’s busiest streets.

WJZ took the list of potentially deadly sites to the city and BGE. The result — quick action.

Ironically, on the very day Eyewitness News asked the city about the issue of stray voltage, WJZ was informed the city had expedited the purchase of equipment to detect stray voltage and to fix the problems.

“We have to be aware of stray voltage as a safety risk,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “We take it very seriously.”

The city tells WJZ it has now checked and repaired the sites that it maintains.

“We’re gonna take every measure we need to take to ensure that everything is safe,” said Adrienne Barnes, Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

Some of the high voltage sites are maintained by the city and some by BGE.

WJZ also took the list to BGE which says it has now repaired the sites that it maintains..

“We’re doing what we have to do to address these issues,” said Rob Gould, BGE.

BGE plans to inspect half the city each year for stray voltage.

The question remains, without constant monitoring can BGE and the city of Baltimore keep people safe from dangerous, deadly currents? Experts say a one time fix is not the answer. Frayed wires that can potentially kill will keep cropping up.

“This is a problem that will keep occurring as the distribution system ages,” said Tom Catanese, power survey company. “You need to do repeated testing to be proactively going out and looking for these problems.”

As for the parents of the little girl who lost her life, they hope by raising awareness they can save a life.

“We pray and hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else and that’s why we’re doing this fight right now to make a difference,” said Greene.

The city wants anyone who knows of stray voltage sites to call 311 to report the dangerous condition.

Court Case Continues In Death Of 14-Year-Old Girl Electrocuted In City Park

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 6:25 PM

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The family of a Baltimore girl electrocuted in a city park is back in court. Fourteen-year-old Deanna Green was the victim of faulty underground electric lines.

Pat Warren reports on court arguments heard Friday.

Circuit Court Judge John Miller had a lot of questions for attorneys on both sides.

The parents of Deanna Green have been in and out of court since 2006.

“It’s a wound that continues to be re-opened,” Green’s mother said.

Green, in a warm-up stretch before her softball game, planted one foot against one fence and stretched out her hand to touch another. Her body completed the circuit.

“What we had here was the equivalent of two bare wires with 240 volts of electricity between them disguised as fences,” Billy Murphy, attorney for the Green family, said.

In Green’s case, one of the fence poles came into direct contact with an underground cable and electrified the fence.

Her parents are challenging a court ruling last year that granted the city immunity in their daughter’s death.

“The notion that the city can let an electrical system that it has complete control over– didn’t belong to BGE– deteriorate so badly that now you have two hot fences with 240 volts and they say they’re not responsible,” Murphy said. “That’s mind-boggling.”

But the attorney for Baltimore argues the city is not liable to check for defects without reason to know there’s a problem, and has already been ruled immune from lawsuit. Still, leaving the courthouse Friday, Green’s family believes the government should be held accountable.

“Because it can so easily happen to anyone else. It was too easy,” they said.

A contractor hired by the city to do electrical work at the Druid Hill Park ballfield settled with the family, but says the settlement was not an admission of guilt.

Friday, the Public Service Commission adopted the Deanna Camille Green Rule, requiring power companies conduct twice a year surveys to detect stray voltage.

New Regulation Could Enforce Continuous Stray Voltage Checks

Posted on July 7, 2011 at 10:40 AM

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The parents of a teen killed in a Baltimore City park want to make sure it never happens again. Their 14-year-old daughter was electrocuted when she touched a metal fence.

Jessica Kartalija explains how a new regulation could keep electricity in check.

At a Public Service Commission hearing, the Green family urged state and private companies to continually check for stray voltage.

Four years ago, Deanna Green touched a fence on a baseball field in Druid Hill Park. An exposed electrical wire was touching the fence underground—227 volts traveled through her body, killing her.

Now her parents are intent on having the city take action with a regulation in the 14-year-old’s name.

“The Deanna Camille Green rule would work to have surveys done of the Baltimore, Md. area to find the stray contact electricity,” said Nancy Arrington-Green, Deanna’s mother.

Now the Greens attended a hearing at the Public Service Commission to come up with a survey schedule to identify areas with stray contact electricity.

“Children and people are all over this city and the infrastructure is not what it used to be,” said Anthony “Bubba” Green, Deanna’s father.

In February, WJZ investigated this problem, riding along with a company, finding hundreds of sites pulsing with potentially deadly stray voltage.

Aging and decaying wires under sidewalks, light poles and manhole covers pose a risk to anyone who comes in contact.

“Find where the problem is and then come back and do another survey to see if there are any more problems that have creeped up over the past few years,” Anthony Green said.

Some companies argue that conducting more than more survey a year is too expensive. But for the Greens, it’s a small price to pay to save a life.

“We’ve paid for this already,” Anthony Green said. “We paid for this with the life of our daughter.”

Private companies, as well as city and state agencies, are all responsible for maintaining those underground lines.

Anything over 50 volts can be deadly.

Family Continues Fight For Answers 5 Years After Stray Voltage Kills Teen

Posted on May 4, 2011 at 11:05 PM

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It was five years ago that a young Baltimore teenager was killed by the stray electrical voltage underground a baseball field in Druid Hill Park. Now her family and their attorneys say they’re still fighting to get answers in their daughter’s death.

Derek Valcourt explains their battle is with the city over releasing important records. They say the city is withholding information about electrical repairs in the park both before and after their daughter’s death.

Deanna Green was just 14 and getting ready to go to bat when she touched a metal fence at a ballfield at Druid Hill Park.

A decaying underground electrical wire made contact with one of the fence posts, sending 227 volts of electricity through her body.

“On the eve of the anniversary of the fifth year, I’m just glad to say that we’re still standing and we’re still fighting,” her father said.

Deanna’s parents Nancy and Bubba Green have taken their crusade to prevent stray voltage deaths nationwide but say their biggest battle is still here in Baltimore.

“The only thing that we’ve ever asked for ever since the very beginning was we just wanted answers, but the city has refused to give us answers,” Bubba Green said.

Specifically, they say city officials refuse to provide records of repair work done to the electrical system and to the fencing at Druid Hill Park in the weeks and months before Deanna’s death and repairs made since then.

”My thing is what are you hiding?” said their attorney, Bo Deitl. “If, in fact, the city is not responsible, release everything.”

Dietl believes the city’s actions amount to a cover-up.

“We wanna know what they discovered because if they discovered that there was an electrical surge here, and they turned that back to the city and they didn’t do anything, then the city is culpable in this thing,” Dietl said.

The city solicitor told WJZ the city has fulfilled all of its discovery obligations and provided all of the information it is legally required to provide.

“We’re going to continue to fight this fight, and hopefully they’ll realize that we’re not going to go away,” Bubba Green said.

Meanwhile Deanna Green’s parents are pushing for Maryland and several other states to pass a law in their daughter’s name, requiring power companies to regularly check for stray voltage and fix problems quickly.

City officials say they are not aware of any other outstanding requests for information on the case from Deanna Green’s family or their attorneys.

Parents Speak Out in Electrocution of Teen

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 12:43 PM

"Every day that goes by I think of Deanna. Every day I come to work, I have to pass through the park. Everyday," said Nancy Arrington-Green.


In the week following Deanna’s death, the city tried to explain how it happened---how a metal pole sank into the ground until it came to rest on a buried electric line.


The family filed a wrongful death suit naming the city BG&E and a local electrical contractor who had done some work at the field… leaving it to the courts to decide who was at fault.


"I don't know,” said the victim’s father, Anthony “Bubba” Green, “That's for the courts to decide, but we know Deanna's not to blame. I know that my wife is not to blame. I know that the league is not to blame."


All of the parties have filed motions to dismiss the case.


"If other parties are responsible for an incident, it's certainly not for the city to step in and pay for those consequences," said City Chief Solicitor Matthew Nayden.


A judge has postponed any ruling for now, since attorneys for the family have added new charges to their complaint.


In effect, that keeps the lawsuit alive and in the public's eye for weeks, if not months to come.


It’s the kind of attention Deanna’s family is counting upon to help keep a similar tragedy from happening to other children who play in city parks.


Deanna’s father, “Bubba” Green, is a former Baltimore Colt, and among the many friends who showed up in court to support the family was Hall of Famer Lenny Moore.


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