TWO MEN who were electrocuted in a substation belonging to the Detroit Public Lighting Department were intent on copper theft, police have speculated.
The deaths on Friday again raise the issue of security at lighting and electrical installations around the world as copper prices soar. The intruders – whose unidentified and charred bodies were fused together by the power of the current – are believed to have received a shock of up to 24kV from one of the busbar conductors at the site.
Lighting engineer Jonathan Smith said the substation consisted of incoming primary transmission feeders directly from the power plant, and would have had exposed high-tension components.
‘The only reason they would be in there is if they were stealing something,’ Dave Fornell, deputy fire commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department told the Detroit News, which broke the story. ‘A substation is a maze of wires and open conductors and that type of thing.’
The deaths have highlighted the vulnerability of unprotected electrical installations. Across the world, copper theft is becoming a major issue as the power to railways, port and factories become disrupted. The price of copper has risen by 32 per cent in the last two years to $7,200 per tonne, creating a lucrative black market.
Main pic: copyright Thomas Hawk 2017