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City Light continues safety inspections, has found six energized streetlights citywide to date

December 22nd, 2010 by Thea

After the tragic death of Queen Anne dog Sammy, who passed away on Thanksgiving day after he stepped onto an electrified metal plate on Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle City Light discovered that the site had not been properly grounded and its inspection records inadequately documented.

Though the utility was able to quickly repair the stray voltage site on Queen Anne Ave, stories of similar incidences citywide have come out, along with growing public unrest. In fact, another dog was shocked, though uninjured, by a streetlamp in Greenwood on the same day as Sammy’s death.

In response City Light Superintendent Carrasco said the utility will conduct checks and make repairs, if necessary to potentially dangerous sites. There are a total of 20,000 metal streetlight poles and 10,000 metal “hand holes” (small streetlight vault covers) in its service territory.

Since Sammy’s death, City Light has found six five other potentially dangerous sites, including one metal streetlamp cover in Greenwood (at 85th and Greenwood) that was energized with 120 volts—enough to kill. The others sites were found in High Point, Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District.

City Light says it will add any new information about energized poles on its Power Lines blog. In the meantime, residents are advised to “be on the lookout” for the following when considering potential dangerous structures:

  • A metal streetlight that’s on during the day
  • A metal streetlight that flickers at night
  • A dog that shies away from a metal streetlight pole or metal cover

The public is also encouraged to call City Light at (206) 684-7056 with any concerns regarding a metal streetlight pole or metal hand hole groundplate cover in their neighborhoods.

Updated 12/23/2010 8:52 a.m.: Seattle City Light representative Scott Thomsen wrote us to clarify that there have been five, not six, energized streetlight sites found since Sammy’s death on Thanksgiving.

“No new problems have been discovered this week,” he writes. “We have agreed to contracts with two companies to assist us with inspections of all 20,000 metal streetlight poles and 10,000 groundcover plates. The first of those contractors is scheduled to start inspections today.”

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