Emergency crews rushed to save a man who went down a manhole and became trapped underground Wednesday in the northwest suburbs. CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports.
A 22-year-old male worker, while part of a construction crew, died Wednesday night underground in a 24-inch diameter pipe where he was apparently applying a fiberglass-like resin lining to the inside of sewer pipe under Park Boulevard in Streamwood. While the exact process had not been defined late Wednesday, the process was likely a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) process, but this was not confirmed by officials, and the chemical used at the scene was not immediately revealed.
Characteristic of CIPP projects, an odor was detected by neighbors before they noticed the large fire department response to the incident. A common chemical connected to CIPP is styrene — with an odor described as sharp and unpleasant. Applying a liner involves injecting steam and fluid chemical materials that harden after they are applied to the inside of the pipes. Potentially harmful chemical emissions are emitted into the air above ground and into the pipes where the liner is being applied. A July 2017 study conducted by Purdue University shows steam released during the installation process is made up of a complex mixture of volatile (VOC) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC), including styrene, acetone, phenol, phthalates and others (in some cases Styrene is not used). Nationwide, some of these processes have released emissions that caused the evacuations of schools and daycare centers, according to an October 5, 2017 webinar held by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), Purdue University and the CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Streamwood firefighters initially responded about 6:18 p.m. Wednesday October 25, 2017 to 501 South Park Boulevard to rescue a man, who fellow workers said was trapped underground and not responding. While en route, Streamwood fire command immediately requested assistance from MABAS Division 1 Technical Rescue Technicians and Confined Space Technicians to respond to the emergency. Hazmat squads and a Decontamination unit also responded to the scene.
The man’s body was recovered about four hours after initial fire dispatch. He was possibly found about 30 feet north of the manhole where firefighters entered with color-coded safety lines, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), and personal protective clothing. Communications on scene were relayed from fire command above ground to a fire officer that is up close and communicating with the team underground. A strong tripod with pulleys is set-up above the manhole and is used to lower and raise rescue personnel, lower and raise equipment, and raise victims.
Underground, while working in confined spaces, firefighter/technicians wearing SCBA had to be alert to breathing hazards, low oxygen hazards, hazardous gases, explosive hazards, water or contaminated hazards, health hazards, and hazards from sharp objects or irregular surfaces in darkness in the pipes. Firefighters discovered the worker’s boots with his body entrapped in a pipe — obstructed by recently hardened fiberglass-like liner. To access the worker’s body, firefighters had to cut the hardened liner material that prevented removing the worker’s body from the pipe. The work was tedious and required careful attention to breathing protection and skin protection for firefighters, who would be potentially exposed to cancer-causing chemicals if proper personal protection procedures were not followed.
The worker was removed about 10:22 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighters were decontaminated after they exited the below grade environment with hazards. Firefighters were evaluated at the scene by paramedics and some may have been transported to hospital(s) for further evaluation.
OSHA was on the scene and likely will be focusing on whether proper breathing apparatus was being used by the worker, and whether proper safety procedures were followed for the complicated liner application process.
Safety of Workers AND Residents Near Applications
In addition to safety of workers who install sewer liners, the safety of residents who live or work near CIPP operations has been a concern nationwide.
The CIPP installation procedure is being used to repair about 50% of the water pipes in the U.S. While primarily used for buried sanitary sewer and storm sewer pipe repairs, it is also increasingly being used for drinking water pipes and building plumbing. Because raw chemicals are used and the plastic pipe is manufactured in the field, the CIPP installation process releases chemicals within the pipes being repaired as well as into the surrounding air. Health officials have responded to building contamination incidents because CIPP chemicals have traveled through sewer pipes and air intake systems into nearby buildings. Some incidents prompted the evacuation of homes, office buildings, day care centers and schools, and required some persons to seek medical care. Health officials will benefit from better understanding the installation processes and materials emitted.
— National Environmental Health Association
A search on Streamwood’s official website for any sewer lining projects in the village did not yield any results. Many cities and villages provide notices regarding ongoing or future CIPP processes. Presumably, Streamwood distributed handouts about sewer lining operations to area residents.
Many communities have informed residents that the CIPP process does not pose a significant risk to human health or the surrounding environment.
Arlington Heights Notice to Residents
A chemical called “styrene” is used in the resin and can emit a strong odor that smells like new plastic. It is possible that residents may notice this odor as work is being done. The release of styrene during the typical sewer rehabilitation process does not pose a significant risk to human health or the surrounding environment.
— Village of Arlington Heights, April 2015
An Arlington, Virginia notice to residents mentioned potential risks of styrene, but did not mention cancer risks, and only mentioned the lesser symptoms of acute exposure.
Arlington, Virginia Notice to Residents
There have been varying reports/studies in regards to the potential risks of styrene at different concentration levels. In general, exposure to styrene for long periods of time may cause nausea, eye and respiratory irritation, headache, etc. This usually goes away with exposure to fresh air.
— Arlington, Virginia
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), acute inhalation of styrene can cause dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and unconsciousness.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several epidemiologic studies suggest that there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. However, the evidence is inconclusive due to multiple chemical exposures and inadequate information on the levels and duration of exposure.
Animal cancer studies have produced variable results and provide limited evidence for carcinogenicity.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified styrene as a Group 2B classification, or “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
AGENTS CLASSIFIED BY IARC MONOGRAPHS
Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans 120 agents
Group 2A Probably carcinogenic to humans 81
Group 2B Possibly carcinogenic to humans 299
Group 3 Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans 502
Group 4 Probably not carcinogenic to humans 1
Styrene oxide is a reactive metabolite of styrene (found in blood and urine after to recent(?) exposure to Styrene) and shows positive carcinogenic results in oral exposure bioassays. Styrene oxide has been detected in workers exposed to styrene. IARC has classified this metabolite as a Group 2A, “probable human carcinogen.”
The EPA does not have a carcinogen classification for styrene; the chemical currently is undergoing an EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) review to establish such a classification.
In September 2017, the California Department of Public Health issued a notice to municipalities and health officials about CIPP installations. One of the several statements in this document were that “municipalities, engineers, and contractors should not to tell residents the exposures are safe.”
Arlington, Virginia offered instructions for minimizing exposure, including tips for ventilating homes when CIPP work near home is completed, and wetting down drain pipes in homes before CIPP work nearby begins, which helps reduce the amount of vapors that enter a home.
CIPP is viewed by many municipalities as a cost effective measure to repair and rehabilitate aging sewer infrastructure — much less expensive than installing new sewer pipes.
NOTE: CIPP Sewer Lining is an entirely different procedure compared to Sewer Smoke Testing, which involves a wood-burning odor; but demonstrates how easily smoke or vapors from the sewer system can enter a home.
ARCHIVED LIVE VIDEO FROM WGN NEWS HELICOPTER …
56-minute video ends before rescue.
FIRE/MEDIC UNITS ASSIGNED …
SQUAD(S): SQD?? Schaumburg SQD55/55A Hanover Park SQD15 Rolling Meadows SQD 15, Elk Grove Village Utility 8,
TRT TECH(S): All Division 1 on duty TRT Techs.
RIT: BC ?? T ??
EMS: A33 A ??
SPECIAL: DECON 1
CODE 4 AT 06:24 PM
ENGINE(S): Bartlett, Hoffman Estates E22
EMS: East Dundee Ambulance
CHIEF(S): Bartlett Hanover Park BC15, Streamwood 900, 901, 910
CHANGE OF QUARTERS:
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Village of Buffalo Grove and Wheeling allowed Buffalo Grove Road to remain open when “steam” from CIPP (shown in this video ) infiltrated the open air near the roadway, but a National Environmental Health Association video states that the steam, commonly referred to as water steam, was actually a multi-phase chemical mixture that included solid particulates, chemical droplets, and partially cured resin.
See also …
Environmental Science & Technology Letters (Purdue Study) Worksite Chemical Air Emissions and Worker Exposure during Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Pipe Rehabilitation Using Cured-in-Place-Pipe (CIPP)
California Department of Public Cure-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) Additional Considerations for Municipalities [PDF]