Tennessee American Water has concluded its investigation into the gas line eruption which occurred on March 12, at Browns Ferry Road and Chapel Patten Road, where three Tennessee American Water employees were repairing a damaged fire hydrant. The findings from the investigation show that the gas locates were marked incorrectly.
Kevin Rogers, operations manager, indicated that prior to beginning the work at the location, Tennessee American Water contacted Tennessee 811 as required. Tennessee 811 is the underground utility notification center for Tennessee. It uses a sophisticated software mapping system to locate which utilities may have underground lines in a particular location and notify any identified utilities in that particular area. The owners of the utilities then send personnel to mark and locate the utilities.
After Tennessee 811 had issued the locate ticket, Mr. Rogers said that a crew was scheduled to repair the damaged fire hydrant. Tennessee American Water crew members began the excavation work in the area they believed to be safe based on the gas line markings. However, despite the markings, the crew hit the gas line, which caused it to erupt and then ignite.
During the investigation, it was evident that the spray painted gas locates - in relation to the actual location of the gas line - were marked incorrectly. Not only were the markings on the wrong side of the fire hydrant, they also exceeded the length from the excavation site to the gas line, as allowed by Tennessee 811.
“We continue to be grateful that neither our employees nor others in the area were harmed. We have every confidence in our employees who are trained and skilled to follow protocol on work sites,” said Mr. Rogers.