Sewer Inspection Uncovers Ticking Time Bomb

Gas line had punctured sewer line, setting up potentially deadly scenario

Sewer Inspection Uncovers Ticking Time Bomb

Gas line had punctured sewer line, setting up potentially deadly scenario

GPRS Project Manager Emily Lamberson almost certainly saved lives when she discovered that a gas line had been inadvertently bored through a sewer lateral in San Ramon, California.

Lamberson was performing a video pipe inspection of the sewer system for a contractor prior to excavation. The contractor wanted the line accurately located so they could avoid it when breaking ground.

They never expected to find a ticking time bomb under their feet, but that’s the most apt description of a cross bore: an accidental intersection of an existing underground utility and a new line installed using directional boring or similar trenchless technology.

Directional boring – also referred to as directional drilling – causes far less ground disturbance than traditional excavation, which is also more costly and time consuming. During this process, a route for a new utility line is bored into the ground at a very shallow angle. The utility is then run through that path.

The problem is that the drill bit used to create the utility path is strong enough to pierce most underground utilities without the drill operator even noticing. If the utility installer does not take proper precautions, new cross bores can be created every time they lay a new line.

The Cross Bore Safety Association estimates that there are over a million undetected cross bores riddling the United States’ buried infrastructure.

Cross bores are referred to time bombs because it’s not a question of if they’ll cause a problem, but when.

Interior view of a damaged sewer lateral.
This screenshot from GPRS Video Pipe Inspection footage shows a sewer lateral that's been penetrated by a gas line. This type of damage is called a cross bore, and it can have fatal consequences.

What Lamberson discovered in San Ramon is by far the worst possible combination of utilities that can be involved in a cross bore: sewer and natural gas. The gas line could have caused a backup in the sewer system, and if someone attempted to clear that backup with an auger, they could have pierced the gas line and caused an explosion.

That’s exactly what happened a few years ago in Middletown, Ohio, where the Eldridge family narrowly escaped an explosion that cost them their home.

The best way to mitigate the risk of cross bores is to hire a professional sewer scope inspection company near you to inspect your wastewater infrastructure both before and after any directional drilling occurs.

Because the contractor in Sam Ramon brought GPRS in to map and inspect the sewer system on their project site, they were able to mitigate this potentially deadly cross bore before it could cause any harm.

“It stopped their operation [until a repair could be completed], but it was good we found it. The client was happy we found the gas line. It definitely changed their plans.”

A GPRS Project Manager pulls a sewer inspection rover from the back of a van.
GPRS Video Pipe Inspection services use remote-controlled rovers and push-fed sewer scopes to inspect and map sewer systems.

How GPRS Inspects Sewer Systems

GPRS Video Pipe Inspection (VPI) services use remote-controlled rovers equipped with CCTV cameras, as well as push-fed sewer scope cameras to inspect sewer systems for clogs, inflow/infiltration (I/I), cross bores, and other defects.

All our sewer inspection equipment comes outfitted with sondes: instrument probes that our Project Managers can detect from the surface using electromagnetic (EM) locators to map your infrastructure at the same time we’re evaluating its integrity.

When you hire GPRS to inspect your wastewater infrastructure, all defects found are geolocated, identified with both photo and video evidence, and ranked by severity so you can prioritize your maintenance planning.

GPRS Project Managers are certified by the National Association of Sewer Service Companies, which provides industry-leading training on the most advanced, non-destructive methods to detect and report subsurface anomalies within sewer lines. This means that you can rest assured that when you hire GPRS to perform a sewer system inspection, you will receive accurate and actionable data you can use to keep your infrastructure working for you.

That data is instantly uploaded into SiteMap® (patent pending), GPRS’ industry-leading, cloud-based infrastructure mapping software that acts as a single source of truth for all your vital infrastructure information.

You receive a complimentary SiteMap® Personal subscription whenever you hire GPRS to perform a job for you. You can access SiteMap® from your computer, tablet, or mobile device to review, edit, and securely share your data with your project team so you can plan, design, dig, manage, and ultimately build better together.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep you on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click the links below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Video Pipe Inspection (VPI)?

Video pipe inspection, or VPI, is a sewer inspection service using CCTV video cameras to mitigate or prevent infrastructure damage by inspecting underground sewer and lateral pipelines. GPRS’ NASSCO-certified Project Managers can locate clogs, investigate cross bores, find structural faults and damages, and conduct lateral sewer line inspections.

What size pipes can GPRS inspect?

We have the capabilities to inspect pipes from 2” in diameter and up.

Can you locate pipes in addition to evaluating their integrity?

Yes! Our SIM and NASSCO-certified Project Managers use VPI technology equipped with sondes, which are instrument probes that allow them to ascertain the location of the underground utilities from an inaccessible location. This allows them to use electromagnetic (EM) locators to map sewer systems at the same time they’re evaluating them for defects.

What do I get when GPRS conducts a VPI?

GPRS is proud to offer WinCan reporting to our Video Pipe Inspection clients. Maintaining sewer systems starts with understanding their condition, and WinCan allows GPRS Project Managers to collect detailed, NASSCO-compliant inspection data. GPRS Project Managers not only inspect the interior condition of sewer pipes, laterals, and manholes – they can also provide a map of their location. The GPRS Mapping & Modeling Department can provide detailed GPS overlays and CAD files.

Finally, you receive a complimentary SiteMap® Personal account with every job GPRS completes for you. SiteMap® (patent pending), powered by GPRS, is our cloud-based infrastructure mapping software where you can review, store, and securely share all the data collected by our Project Managers.

You can learn more about SiteMap® here.