I am surprised and not surprised at the same time to learn of the latest development relating to my dog Sammy’s death. I will give credit to SCL for their recent efforts in finding and repairing contact voltage in streetlights and metal plates, but as we all know too well, it generally takes a tragedy to get something fixed and for people to wake up and make changes. The tragedy and sacrifice of my beloved dog on Thanksgiving Day 2010 is a direct result of SCL’s negligence and ignorance. Before Sam’s death, SCL failed to address more extensively the important issue of contact voltage, a deadly hazard, when it was initially reported that a dog had been shocked one year earlier, instead, calling it a common occurence. Really? So, just because there were no deaths or injuries, it is acceptable for SCL to have treated this issue so cavalierly? Would this attitude be the same if a child or an adult had the same experience…I think not.
Now, SCL has taken action by hiring experts to do contact voltage inspections in our city. OK, they are a year late and a dollar short, but I did say in the beginning that it takes a tragedy to get something done. My question is…is it enough and will they continue to do routine monitoring and checking for potential contact voltage problems? Contact voltage just doesn’t disappear once it is repaired, it is something that happens over time as infrastructure ages and deteriorates, including faulty wiring/electrical installation without proper safety inspections, etc. Contact voltage needs to be inspected regularly. SCL needs to ensure our public safety and conduct routine maintenance for this hidden and deadly danger!
By LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News
SEATTLE – Three more streetlights with potentially dangerous voltage were discovered Thursday night in Burien, on private property. That brings the total number of faulty streetlights to 28, since Seattle City Light began inspections after a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne on Thanksgiving.
City Light says they’ve known about the potential streetlight problems for a long time. They say every utility has contact voltage issues.
In 2009, on Delridge Way SW, dog owner Neil Miller says he called City Light after his dog, Blackjack, was shocked as he approached a streetlight.
“He started stiffening up. I could hear the electricity in the air. He gave a whimper and I knew what was happening,” said Miller.
The following day, a City Light crew repaired the street lamp. He says the crew told him it was a common thing. Miller says he’s concerned that City Light waited for the dog death on Queen Anne before conducting inspections of all streetlights in its service area.
“I think it should have been a priority,” said Miller.
So far, City Light has inspected 60 percent of the metal streetlight poles and ground cover plates. The highest voltage City Light has found so far is 111 volts from a streetlamp in West Seattle.