Cross Bores: A Dangerous Intersection

By Elizabeth Bell

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Commission (PHMSC), there is over 2.5 million miles of pipeline underground. Over 300 companies operate the pipes long enough to wrap around the Earth 100 times.  So, what happens when utilities are fighting for underground space?

What is a Cross Bore?

A cross bore is defined as the intersecting of an existing utility or underground structure by a second-party utility, resulting in the direct contact of the different utilities and compromising of either or both structures. The most common cross bores seen today are between natural gas pipelines and sewer systems.

Despite the high amount of danger cross bores can have on contractors, homeowners and the community, The Cross Bore Safety Association (CBSA) states that they were recognized as a high-level risk to utility workers only a few decades ago. In 1976 the U.S. DoT concluded that two fatalities and four injuries that year were due to a cross bore of a gas distribution line and a sanitary sewer…

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