Duquesne Light Company Isolates Location of Cable Leak

Crews working in the Strip District near Liberty Ave.

After deploying two different methods for identifying the source of an underground transmission cable leak, Duquesne Light Company (DLC) has now isolated the area to be in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue in the Strip District between 23rd and 27th Street. To continue isolating and to further reduce the flow of the leak, crews began digging last night on 23rd St. between Railroad and Smallman St. to perform a cable freeze on Saturday, May 4, through Sunday, May 5. This process will allow the overall leak rate to be further reduced while DLC personnel begin preparing for excavation of the leak site, which will begin Sunday afternoon.

“Leak detection is an incredibly complex process when dealing with underground cables that stretch miles through neighborhoods and under rivers,” said John Hilderbrand II, vice president of operations for DLC. “In this case, we’ve been able to significantly slow the leak rate; however, that can make it more challenging to pinpoint the exact location. Our focus is on delivering safe and reliable power to our customers and the public while protecting our region’s natural resources. We appreciate everyone’s support and assistance.”

DLC has mobilized all its available resources, including internal and external subject matter experts and equipment to assist in the clean-up once the leak is found. Additional river booms are being placed along the Allegheny and Ohio rivers as precautionary measures.

The transmission cable spans from Brunot Island to the Strip District.


On April 29, DLC system operators learned that an underground transmission cable on the North Side of Pittsburgh was leaking a non-toxic, clear liquid used to cool down and insulate underground cables as they safely deliver reliable power. DLC crews have been working around the clock to identify the source of the leak and have taken measures to limit potential environmental impact, including significantly slowing the rate of the leak. Currently, DLC estimates that approximately 24,000 gallons of fluid, about 27% of the cable contents, have escaped.

No power outages or injuries have occurred as a result of this incident. There is currently no danger to the public in the Strip District area, and DLC will be actively monitoring the vicinity to ensure the public is safe throughout the process. More updates will be provided once the repair work begins.

About the Substance

  • Commonly referred to as dielectric fluid, the leaking substance is a clear, mineral-like liquid that presents a glossy-like sheen and is non-toxic to the public.
  • It is non-flammable and non-combustible.
  • In large, concentrated quantities, it may impact aquatic life.
  • It has a faint mineral oil smell.

Current Response

  • DLC continuing to work with local partners, including Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, to minimize impact to the rivers and sewer systems.
  • The company has isolated the source of the leak to be in the Strip District area near Liberty Ave. and is working to further reduce the flow of the liquid until the location has been pinpointed and repairs/clean-up can begin.

DLC proactively notified local and state agencies, including the Public Utility Commission, Pittsburgh Emergency Management, Allegheny County Emergency Services, Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection.

If area residents notice a clear yet frothy-like substance on the rivers or entering nearby waterways, they should notify the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.




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About Duquesne Light Company

For more than 100 years, Duquesne Light Company has provided safe and reliable electric service to communities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Today, our core values of safety, integrity, dependability, equity and community enable us to serve more than 600,000 customers in two counties, including the city of Pittsburgh. We are committed to safely powering our customers’ lives while playing a leading role in our region’s clean energy transition. Our vision is to create a larger-than-light, clean energy future for all by delivering exceptional results today and boldly harnessing opportunities for tomorrow. In doing so, we can ensure a cleaner, healthier and more equitable community for generations to come.


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