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I-Team: Deadly Problem Found On Local Sidewalks

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The I-Team found stray voltage in many places in Worcester.

The I-Team found stray voltage in many places in Worcester.

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WORCESTER (CBS) — They look like a light pole or sewer grate, but the jolt they can give humans and animals alike is enough to kill them.

The I-Team found lots of sources of stray voltage in the city of Worcester. Stray voltage is when electricity bleeds out of aging or poorly installed wires and then shows up in places it shouldn’t.

A woman in New York City was killed when she stepped on a manhole cover that was discharging 57 volts. Some of the poles the I-Team found registered 120 volts, the same as a household light socket.

The Power Survey Company used its state-of-the-art truck to hone in on contact voltage. It picks up signals from energized surfaces.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

“If you were barefoot and you touched this, you would get a shock for sure, maybe even electrocuted,” said Dave Kalokitis, of Power Survey Company, after finding an electrified pole.

In Massachusetts there’s a law that requires utilities to test for this exact problem once every five years.

Worcester Public Works Commissioner Bob Moylan said he was surprised by what the I-Team found. Although they haven’t had any complaints about stray voltage city testers did find current on some of the poles the I-Team reported. Moylan believes some of the sites were false readings. Still, he said he is taking the situation seriously and plans to go beyond the state regulations.

“We are gong to put a label on each light pole as we inspect it, and I said we are going to do about 50 percent of our system each year,” said Moylan.

Some of the charged poles in Worcester were the result of crossed or chaffed wires. The city says they’ve been fixed.

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