Danger Underground: safety after Sun Prairie explosion

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) — As authorities consider possible criminal charges in connection with Sun Prairie’s deadly downtown natural gas explosion, stakeholders with underground utilities say adherence with best practices and new technology hold promise for safer, future excavation.

The blast July 10 leveled buildings, killed Sun Prairie firefighter Cory Barr, and injured others.

July search warrant records in connection to the seizure of equipment from the blast scene state Sun Prairie Police suspect the crime of Second Degree Reckless Homicide was committed.

The warrant affidavit states an employee of the utility-locating firm USIC improperly marked the location of the gas line, and the line was severed by an excavator, causing the explosion a short time later.

Records show state law was followed before the excavation by contact with Digger’s Hotline.

“Calling Digger’s Hotline is a great first step,”  the hotline’s Chad Krueger says.  “It’s not the only step in safe excavation.”

Madison-based Berntsen International is one firm that’s providing technology to make locating underground utilities more accurate.

“We think it is an answer,”  Berntsen International’s Kari Campbell says.

“It’s a new solution that can really solve a lot of problems that have traditionally been happening in underground utility locating,” she tells 27 News.

Wednesday on 27 News at 10, an increase in underground activity, it’s challenge, and safety’s cutting edge.

Tony Galli

Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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