News Feature | November 10, 2017

Worker Killed During Sewer Line Repairs

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

sewer.reg

In addition to being an onerous, often overwhelming logistical challenge to utilities, pipe repair can often be quite dangerous to those tasked with performing it. In a devastating example of this danger, a construction worker was recently killed.

“Known as String Bean to his rugby teammates, Brett Morrow’s lean and wiry frame belied his natural athletic grace and grit,” the Daily Herald reported. “The 22-year-old from Gurnee[, IL], was doing that job Wednesday when authorities say the resin lining he and his crew installed in a sewer main under a Streamwood residential collapsed, trapping him in the pipe where he ultimately died.”

The practice of cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) repair is already controversial for the potential hazards it brings through the production of vapor plumes that accompanies it. In this case, it appears that as Morrow was installing new lining, the pipe gave way with him still inside.

“Morrow was about 30 feet into the pipe … estimated [to have] a diameter of roughly 20 to 24 inches,” per the Daily Herald. “He was part of a crew from Bartlett-based Benchmark Construction that had been lining some of the neighborhood’s older sewer mains for weeks. Construction experts said Morrow was likely in the pipe to cut holes in the newly installed lining to restore sewer services to homes on the block when the lining collapsed. The pipe was about 20 feet underground.”

The loss was a blow to a small, tight-knit community in which Morrow lived and worked.

“It’s like lose a brother,” said Erik Miller, a teammate of Morrow’s, according to the Daily Mail. “He brought so much more than just rugby talent to our team and community.”

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Image credit: "palazzi 023," rgdarling, 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/