ANOTHER MANHOLE BLOWS--ON WHITE HOUSE GROUNDS-THIRD IN TWO DAYS -- HAS THE BEAVER MILITIA REGROUPED?
"A manhole cover exploded last night on the grounds of the White House, several hours after an underground explosion in Northwest Washington blew two others into the air." (Story inserted at end)
Is this a BLAST FROM THE PAST?
This is Cherry Blossom Time --
Last year at Cherry Blossom Time Rumor Mill News was the only News Agency that brought you the real story of the Cherry Tree Beavers and their heroic fight to preserve Feedom and Liberty in the United States. Their fight for freedom started at the Tidal Basin and ended in a manhole on the White House grounds."
From "The Cherry Tree Beavers Vow More Cherry Trees Will Fall" --
The Beaver Militia
"The beavers vow they will chop down all the cherry trees in Washington unless the people of Washington return to honesty that the cherry tree symbolizes."
KING BEAVER TRAPPED--EXPERIMENTAL LAB ANIMAL
"In a fit of weakness and despair, King Beaver told our Source that he had even thought about going to work for his captors, just to make sure his family was not harmed. His captors want him to teach them how to communicate with other beavers. They want to draft beavers world wide and use them in Kosovo, as spies behind enemy lines."
The Virginia Beaver Militia is planning a full scale assault on Washington!
"At the urging of General Beaver, the Virginia beaver militia was putting together a massive assault force to storm the tidal basin and chop down the remaining cherry trees. The volunteer beaver militia is being called up and attack plans are being made."
From "Cherry Tree Beaver Update" 04.14.99
CHERRY TREE BEAVER UPDATE
"My Source told me to watch for unusual happenings in Washington. The Cherry Tree Beavers are sacrificing themselves to remind Americans that this country was founded on truth and justice."
From Rush Limbaugh -- Update 04.14.99
"Nancy Moses, a spokeswoman for Potomac Electric Power Co., said a small fire occurred in a bundle of wires at a transformer in a manhole on the White House grounds at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave."
(DEJA VU?--MANHOLES AND ART BELL -- IS EVERYTHING COMING FULL CIRCLE? LAST NIGHT ART BELL ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT -- IN THE BEAVER UPDATE READ THE PART ABOUT ART BELL--IF YOU DON'T HAVE QUESTIONS AFTER THIS--YOU SHOULD!!)
Now--almost one Year later --
MORE MANHOLE TROUBLE -- HAVE THE CHERRY TREE BEAVERS RETURNED?
White House Latest Site of Manhole Blast (washingtonpost.com)
White House Latest Site of Manhole Blast
By Petula Dvorak Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, April 1, 2000; Page B01
A manhole cover exploded last night on the grounds of the White House, several hours after an underground explosion in Northwest Washington blew two others into the air.
Officials for Potomac Electric Power Co. said failed electrical cable splices caused both explosions.
Last night's blast occurred about 7:40 behind the White House's southeast gate near Alexander Hamilton Place and East Executive Park, said Pepco spokeswoman Nancy Moses. No one was injured, and the White House did not lose power, she said. Moses said repairs to the cable splice will be made over the weekend.
The earlier blast occurred yesterday afternoon, just around the corner from and minutes after a Washington Gas news conference at which the utility denied blame in February's Georgetown explosions.
The blast, which slammed one manhole cover into a new car at 13th and G streets NW, prompted cringes from Pepco officials, who had to explain yet another explosion while deflecting Washington Gas's accusations.
The two utility giants have pointed fingers at each other over the Feb. 18 blasts that shook the 3100 block of M Street in Georgetown, closing businesses and stopping traffic flow for more than 24 hours.
Now a third party--the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1900, which represents 2,400 Pepco employees--has added another possibility to the mix, saying that 10 years of staff cuts by Pepco have weakened underground maintenance crews.
About two weeks ago, Pepco released a report alleging that Washington Gas workers nicked a power cable while boring a test hole into the street, setting the stage for the spectacular fiery, smoke-filled explosions that sent three manholes covers up to 30 feet in the air. Washington Gas issued a report of equal heft yesterday, using charts, graphs and photos to explain that it would have been physically impossible for a worker to break through a terra cotta conduit and nick Pepco's cable.
"Forensic tests show that it would have taken in excess of 1,100 pounds of weight to do so," said Washington Gas spokesman Tim Sargeant. "If the terra cotta ductwork was already broken, the force required to break through the insulation with a test rod would have been in excess of 600 pounds."
Sargeant added that Pepco's findings also contrasted with that of the D.C. Fire Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which closed the case after a two-week investigation, saying they could not determine the source of the blasts. Washington Gas also has maintained that its workers called Pepco's cable locating service Feb. 4 when they made the test holes, and they pinpointed the cable before making the holes, which were 23 inches away.
The most crucial pieces of evidence, the cable and the terra cotta conduit, are gone. The cable was burned beyond recognition and the terra cotta conduit was thrown away, gas officials said.
Pepco officials have scrambled to explain seven similar, though less severe, explosions throughout the District's business sector since the Georgetown explosions.
They acknowledged that imperfect splices and cables can cause problems--particularly in the winter, when chemicals seep underground and corrode the faults, and in the summer, when power overloads stress imperfections in cables.
Jim Hunter, president of Local 1900, said staffing cutbacks in the underground maintenance division allow these kinds of problems to go unchecked.
"With reduced staffing levels, maintenance has been put off," Hunter said.
When the District underwent heavy bursts of construction from the early 1970s into the 1980s, workers were consistently in and out of manholes and visual inspections happened naturally, he said.
"Now, manholes can go years and years without anyone in them," he said. "The underground crews today are at about 50 percent less of what we had 10 years ago."
More recently, Hunter said union records show a reduction of 47 workers from January 1995 to February 2000 in the underground maintenance division, which went from 173 to 126.
"Not doing maintenance is like not changing the oil in your car. It'll go 100,000 miles, but then your engine will blow up," Hunter said. "The lack of maintenance is going to affect reliability. Their car is still at 90,000 miles, and they're still saying they don't need that oil change."
Pepco says it did not reduce work crews.
Staff writer Phuong Ly contributed to this report.
GEORGETOWN MANHOLE EXPLOSIONS REEXAMINED
Concluding its own investigation into the Feb. 18 Georgetown manhole explosions, Washington Gas reported yesterday that its employees did not cause an electrical fault, as Pepco alleged two weeks ago.
Washington Gas's findings:
1. Drilled bar holes were made in the street, about five feet from the electrical cable.
2. The test rod used to conduct a gas leak test was pushed into a tree box about 23 inches from the electric cable.
Washington Gas tests conclude that:
* More than 1,100 pounds of weight would be needed to break the terra cotta duct encasing the electrical cable.
* Even if the terra cotta duct were damaged, it would take 600 pounds of additional weight to perforate the insulation around the cable.
Two more Pepco manholes blew yesterday at 13th and G street, NW. There have been seven manhole incidents since Feb. 18.