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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.

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