For Immediate Release
March 07, 2005
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Mayor Thomas M. Menino and NSTAR president and CEO Thomas May today announced the establishment of a joint-task force to address the issue of electrical safety in Boston. Pledging support for the newly formed joint-task force, Mayor Menino and Mr. May also announced the blueprint for a comprehensive review of electrical and construction records; immediate inspection of likely trouble spots; the formation of a new joint database to better shield the city against stray voltage issues in the future; and an examination into permitting and regulatory procedures governing electricity in our city.
"Boston is the world's greatest walking city, and everyone should feel free to walk our beautiful neighborhoods without worry for their safety or the safety of their pets," Mayor Menino said. "I am committed to ensuring electrical safety in our city, and I thank NSTAR for stepping up to the job."
NSTAR this week committed to co-chairing Mayor Menino's taskforce on electric safety, and the company is taking steps to search out and disconnect any cables that might remain at locations where streetlights have been removed. This was the source of stray voltage in Tuesday's serious incident on Western Avenue, and the company has redoubled its effort to find and cut any such cables.
"Our workforce is on the ground, right now searching out locations where cables may still be in place, cutting them off from the electric system, and ensuring that they will never become a source of stray voltage," Mr. May said. "We thought we had these cables cut before, but now have additional records that provide better historical information. Though the chance of any of these sites becoming a source of stray voltage is remote, by working closely with the mayor's office to cross check our records and theirs, we'll find these sites and make sure they can never become a problem."
"These cables, under normal conditions are no threat to public safety. But in the rare instance in which they may fail, we would have no signal, no blinking streetlight to signal trouble," Mr. May said. "For that reason, they are as troubling as a home without a smoke alarm and that's why last year we set out to find all of them and cut them from our system. Now that we know there may be more, we'll cut them too."
The Joint Task Force will immediately focus on the following steps:
· Review of Historical Records and Databases: The Task Force will scrutinize and compare their records of the city's infrastructure. This review will focus on the improvement and repair of streetlights and permits for construction in city streets.
· Inspections: The Task Force Members will continue to search for and disconnect any cables in areas where company or city records indicate a streetlight was removed or may have been removed.
· Development of a Specialized Database: The Task Force will develop a common database and communication system for the reporting and coordination of construction and infrastructure activity within Boston so instances involving contact with, damage to, or removal of energized electric facilities will be traceable in the future.
· Permitting and Regulatory Initiatives: The Task Force will examine current permitting and regulatory processes governing construction in Boston as it relates to electricity. The task force will make recommendations for improvements as needed.
Though NSTAR workers have already set about inspections, members of the task force will convene next week to set about their work. In the meantime, any citizen suspecting stray voltage at any location should immediately call NSTAR at 1-800-592-2000.
### Task Force Members
James W. Hunt, Chief of Environment and Energy Services, Boston, co-Chair Joseph Nolan, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Relations and Customer CareGovernment and Community Relations, NSTAR co-Chair Michael Galvin, Chief of Basic City Services Phil Anderson, Vice-President of Electrical Operations, NSTAR Paul Afonso, Chairman of Mass. Department of Telecommunications and Energy Wendy Landman, Executive Director of Walk Boston Gary Sullivan, President of Local 369, UWUA Dick Lieber, Cozantini Construction Nick Gilman, Animal Rescue