Stories of diggers and drillers hitting buried gas pipes, water mains and power cables are numerous and, in many cases, nasty. Explosions follow, people die: from fire or electrocution. One particular incident was a train wreck, almost literally.
Age has weakened them, the years condemned them with corrosion and now America's gas pipes are leaking, and exploding, in ever increasing numbers, especially in New Jersey.
Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the United Firefighters Union (UFU) are locked in a long-running dispute over the CFA's ability to provide the specialised services needed to rescue people trapped in collapsed trenches.
Despite rules and regulations, codes of practices, training schemes and long experience trench collapses with fatal or near-fatal consequences still occur all too frequently.
Being able to call up or go to a web site and get information on underground infrastructure before you start digging a hole is something we tend to take for granted in Australia - after all, the Dial Before You Dig service has been around for 25 years.
Pictured above (L to R) Dave Street, Business Development Manager for LinesearchbeforeUdig and Mike Guthrie, Performance Manager for Northumbrian Water.
Northumbrian Water Group has become the latest utility to join LinesearchbeforeUdig, the UK’s free to use, online enquiry portal for information on underground utility infrastructure.
It goes without saying that the dial-before-you-dig service is only as good as the data it holds about what is being dug into: if the horizontal and vertical positions of underground infrastructure are not accurately recorded dial-before-you-dig can, at worst, give diggers a false sense of security.
“A bar owner spoke of his disgust after he was forced to close his premises for an entire day last week, after workmen hit a gas pipe at Market Square.” So ran the report in Northern Ireland's Ulster Star newspaper.
Can you imagine being able to look down to the ground at your feet and 'see' every bit of buried infrastructure, see whether it's a power cable, gas pipe or a sewer, and how deep it is?
It was definitely a case of the cure being worse than the disease. The technician of a US gas supply company looking for a gas leak managed to puncture the underground gas line causing a much larger leak which resulted in an explosion that destroyed a club house, injured 17 people and caused $1.3m worth of damage.
Have you heard the term 'big data'? It's a rather inaccurate but often used term to describe the rapidly growing discipline of data analytics - bringing together multiple disparate sources of data and analysing these for new insights. And underground infrastructure is just source of data that is coming with the ambit of data analytics.
Mechanical excavators are wonderful pieces of engineering. They can chew through asphalt, be fitted with attachments that will break up concrete and, most importantly dig big holes in the ground very quickly.
If a picture is worth a thousand words then Western Power can successfully argue that when it comes to safety, a map is worth much more, not just for itself and its customers but for the utilities who are members of the national Dial Before You Dig service (DBYD).
The UK capital is suffering from a spate of underground explosions - caused mostly by water penetrating buried high voltage electrical infrastructure
What makes a great One Call Industry? That's the question posed by PelicanCorp CEO, Duane Rodgers, in the latest edition of US magazine, 'Disaster Prevention'.
It's a record on multiple counts: the explosion of a US gas pipeline in San Bruno California in 2010 that left eight people dead and destroyed 50 houses.
In the USA they put a great deal of effort into raising awareness of dial-before-you-dig services, with a National 811 Day being held on the 11th day of the eighth month every year (811 is the national dial-before-you-dig number in the USA).
The Commonwealth Government has launched the National Map Open Data initiative http://nationalmap.nicta.com.au describing it as part of the Government’s commitment to increasing the number of publicly available datasets.
Many of the world’s worst accidents are not the result of a single major failure, human or mechanical; one that perhaps should and could have been anticipated and prevented. Instead they result from an unfortunate concatenation of minor failings, each of little consequence when taken in isolation.
Taiwan's second largest city, Kaohsiung, suffered a series of catastrophic explosions on the night of 31 July resulting from gas leaking from an underground pipeline. The explosion following the initial leak fractured other pipelines precipitating additional fires and explosions. Initial reports put the number of dead at 25 and those injured at 257.
In September 2012, Ireland’s government-owned electricity transmission system operator, EirGrid, opened the high-voltage direct current submarine and underground power cable which links the electricity transmission grids of Ireland and Great Britain known as the East West Interconnector (EWIC). It has a power rating of 500 MW and is one of the largest High Voltage Direct Current schemes in the world to use Voltage Source Converter technology.