ActewAGL warns that copper theft increases risk to public safety

Wednesday 11 April 2012

ActewAGL is warning people to stay well away from damaged or vandalised electrical infrastructure in order to avoid being harmed.

This warning follows a recent incident of copper theft where thieves stripped a high-voltage power pole of its copper cables. These cables are part of the built-in safety features of the electricity network. Without this copper cabling the equipment becomes unearthed, meaning that a fault on the network could cause electricity to move into anything that is touching or near the equipment.

ActewAGL General Manager Asset Management Stephen Devlin has stressed that while the electricity network is configured safely, interference by vandals and copper thieves presents serious risk to public safety.

"It's important that people stay well away from all components of the electricity network and understand that it can be dangerous to interfere with it.

"Even if live wires aren’t touched, tampering with the network can result in electric shock as electricity can arc or jump if objects interfere with the path of the electrical current.

ActewAGL can mark its assets with DataTrace Technology – a system that coats objects with a fine mist, invisible to the naked eye, containing molecular traces embedded with a business name and ABN. This can then be used to trace stolen items back to ActewAGL as the owner.

Stephen said, “The main reason for using this technology is to act as a deterrent in preventing future thefts.

“Our greatest concern is the potential safety risks for our staff and the public created by thieves who interfere with the network, not just the monetary loss caused by theft.”

If you see someone trespassing, vandalising or acting suspiciously near ActewAGL infrastructure including powerlines, substations and switchyards, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or ActewAGL on 13 10 93.

For further media information only:
Nicole Millwood
Mobile: 0414 515 359