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PPL suing township, trucking co. over accident near pumping station

Published On: Oct 03 2012 10:22:28 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 03 2012 11:51:46 AM CDT

EASTON, Pa. -

PPL Electric is suing the Lehigh Township Municipal Authority and a trucking company over an accident that damaged a utility pole near a pumping station and set off a sewer emergency two years ago.

PPL is asking for almost $6,600 in damages in the civil suit filed against the authority and ABF Freight System Tuesday in Northampton County Court.

Authority manager Dave Getz told WFMZ.com on Wednesday morning he was unaware of the suit, but thought the matter had been resolved. "As far I'm concerned, the accident is their [PPL's] fault," he added.

PPL says in its suit that on Oct. 4, 2010, an ABF truck driven by Byron A. Fritz struck and damaged overhead power lines on a utility pole near Elm Road and Walnut Drive in Lehigh Twp., Northampton Co.

The suit says the township was negligent in properly maintaining the pole, and that negligence led to the accident. It also says Fritz was driving too fast, and that the freight company didn't train Fritz adequately.

Getz said electric wires from the utility pole were hanging five to six feet lower than usual during "a very rainy time of year," and the truck driver struck them and snapped the pole.

Getz said the pole landed on a fiberglass pumping station, splitting the roof, damaging two of the walls, knocking a generator out of service and setting off an alarm.

Getz said he was at the scene about a half-hour after the 10:30 a.m.
accident, and that an emergency generator was set up in about three hours. "That generator ran five or six days at our cost," he said.
"Otherwise we would have had a sewage backup. All of the sewage from Danielsville goes into [the pumping station], and there's a small creek about 40 to 50 feet away that could have been affected." The state Department of Environmental Protection also investigated the accident, Getz noted.

Getz said a police investigation cleared the driver of any wrongdoing, and that the township's insurance carrier, the Selective Insurance Co., paid the entire cost -- almost $30,000 -- of replacing the pole and pumping station.

Getz added that the accident was part of a series of events that led Selective to drop the authority as a customer. "We're paying 30 percent more for insurance now," he said.