Southern California Edison to Tether Downtown Long Beach Manhole Covers in Response to Recent Underground Explosions

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A crew member enters a manhole during the second downtown Long Beach power outage. Photo by Asia Morris. 

After fully restoring power to affected customers in downtown Long Beach Sunday night, Southern California Edison (SCE) is taking steps to secure manhole covers from being launched into the air by any future underground explosions.

According to a statement from city officials, SCE has committed to tethering the over 300 manhole covers within the downtown electrical grid as a precautionary measure. The work to secure the manhole covers is scheduled to begin within the week and is expected to take several days to complete.

“They’re attaching the manhole covers and the vault covers to a cable so that if something like this happens again it doesn’t fly off,” said Kerry Gerot, a public information officer with the city. “The cable will restrict it.”

Representatives from SCE could not be reached for comment on their plans to tether the downtown area manholes.

Nearly 30,000 customers were without power after a series of explosions and underground fires prompted SCE to shut down a portion of the grid last week to assess and fix the damaged equipment. Gerot said that while the exact cause of the equipment failures is not currently known by the city or by SCE, they do know the explosions and subsequent fires were attributed to faulty equipment.

Over the weekend, SCE crews and Long Beach Police Department officers inspected all of the approximately 300 electrical vaults in the downtown area. SCE has assured the city that measures were taken to prevent further disruptions.

“Throughout those inspections they have been making repairs. If they found anything they needed to repair, they did,” Gerot said. “They have guaranteed us that they have made it into all 300 vaults and they have checked out all of the equipment and have made repairs and will continue to make repairs.”

Long Beach is currently working with representatives in both the State Senate and Assembly to organize a town hall meeting where community members will be able to voice their comments and concerns stemming from the two power outages that struck the downtown area last month. Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymembers Patrick O’Donnell and Anthony Rendon have called for an independent investigation into the power outages that affected the city.



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