The electrocution of a 12-year-old Detroit girl has exposed a new risk in a city that's turning the corner nearly two years after emerging from bankruptcy: miles of obsolete power lines that could fall from poles and turn deadly. K'Brianna Griffin was killed in September when she came in contact with a downed line in a friend's yard, reports the AP. The line was inactive, but it was energized and dangerous because it was resting on a live DTE Energy power line that was carrying electricity. DTE, the local utility, said one of its workers saw the downed line in July, taped off the area, warned neighbors, and notified the city, which owned the line. The city, however, never removed it. Now state utility regulators are urging action to prevent more peril.
In a report last week, staff at the Michigan Public Service Commission said it is Detroit's responsibility to remove abandoned wires. Detroit told the agency that it could cost $35.7 million and take years to remove 900 miles of overhead wire. DTE, which controls the poles, puts the price tag at more than double that if other maintenance work is included. "Only the future removal of the arc wire will entirely eliminate the safety threat,” Public Service Commission staff say. “Without a city of Detroit formal commitment, the possibility exists that the status quo could return." The city's chief attorney says city workers have been told that no downed lines will be left unattended until the wire is cut and any immediate danger is eliminated.