BGE says it was actually the city’s contractor that broke a ‘large sewer line’ in Westport, sending sewage spewing

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Photo by Ethan McLeod

One day after the city blamed a Baltimore Gas and Electric-contracted crew for damaging a sewer line in Westport and sending thousands of gallons of sewage flowing out by the hour, the utility giant is saying was actually a city contractor that caused the foul leak.

As BGE tells it, the story is a bit muddier than originally stated by the Department of Baltimore Works.

In a statement Wednesday, the company said the issue originated with a job they were performing last month, on Sept. 19. That day, BGE-contracted crews were “following safe digging practices” near Kent Street and Annapolis Road, “yet damage occurred to an underground sewer line that was improperly marked,” the company said. BGE’s contractor notified DPW about the damage and asked them to make the needed repairs.

Yesterday, a little over two weeks later, DPW sent out its own contractor to do just that, BGE said: “During the repair work by the city contractor, additional damage occurred, resulting in the release of sewage in the area.”

But DPW says that’s not quite true, either. In an email Wednesday, agency spokesman Jeffrey Raymond wrote, “neither the City nor a contractor was doing repair work at the site on Oct. 2. We were there investigating to determine the extent of the damage when the sewer main was pierced on Sept. 19.”

Asked for a response, BGE spokesman Justin Mulcahy said in an email, “We stand by the original statement.”

Raymond also noted that it’s Miss Utility that handles the task of marking sewer lines, not the city. However, a spokeswoman for Miss Utility said in an email this morning that that’s not true, either: “Miss Utility collects information from excavators about their plans, and then relays that information to its member utility companies, who then send out locators to mark lines. Miss Utility is not responsible for marking the lines.”

So basically, none of the involved parties have taken responsibility for the line being unmarked at the start of this ordeal last month.

The leak occurred in what DPW yesterday described as a “large sewer line,” sending sewage flowing out at a rate of around 100 gallons per minute. Raymond said late Wednesday evening that the leak has not yet been stopped entirely, but the waste is “being contained in a pit at the location.”

The utility and the city and now “working closely…to determine what if any additional actions may be needed,” BGE said. Hopefully that will include stemming the flow of our sewage.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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