STAFFORD TOWNSHIP -- The drilling accident that ruptured two pipes and interrupted water, sewer and cable service on Tuesday may have been caused by the site being incorrectly marked, a township official said on Friday.
Township Administrator James Moran said an investigation is under way to determine if false “mark-outs” led to the crew contracted by Atlantic Electric to install new power poles to drill into the pipes.
“It appears there were false mark-outs that were caused by how deep the pipes were buried,” said Moran.
Mark-outs are used to locate underground pipes or cables prior to digging for any purpose. The locations are normally determined by using powerful metal detectors and then marked out on the surface.
In this case, three different mark-out readings gave the same false location, the administrator said. “The township’s for the sewer, Comcast’s for their cable run and Cedar Bonnet Estates’ for their water service all showed the same apparently incorrect location,” said Moran.
The administrator said until a new pipeline can be dug and installed the township has restored all its services to everyone affected and Comcast had their cable service back up on Tuesday.
The township will be using newer technology to ensure this situation does not occur again. “We will be marking and GPS mapping the location of the new pipes as we bury them,” said Moran. Digging for the new pipe placements is tentatively schedule for sometime next week, he added.
Temporary water hook-ups are in place on Cedar Bonnet Island, while vacuum tank trucks are collecting and transporting the island’s sewage to a main in Ship Bottom, where it is pumped directly into the county sewage authority’s line.
The sewage is not allowed into the township’s main but held at a manhole just before it. The manhole was compared to a standard septic tank by a township Water and Sewer Department employee on the site. "It gets held in there and then we pump it out and take it over to Ship Bottom," he said.
The township has two trucks that will work in tandem round the clock until the new pipes are in place, said Moran.
Across the channel on the north side of Bonnet Island the township also provided temporary water-hook ups and rerouted the sewage to secondary lines avoiding the need to use the trucks, said Moran.
Bonnet Island is much more populated than Cedar Bonnet with dozens of homes and The Dutchman’s Restaurant and its Quelle Deck Bar, both popular and crowded destinations during the summer months. They are not expected to be impacted with the fixes in place, said Moran.
Both island’s rerouting and hook-ups will end once the new pipes are installed, said Moran. He added it is up to Comcast as what they want to do concerning their fiber optic cables. But at last Tuesday’s meeting Moran said all parties need to put new pipes under the bay, “So we might as well all do it at once.”