The lead-cable topic has swirled since early July 2023, when a Wall Street Journal report raised concerns about some U.S. telecom networks containing toxic lead cables. Telecom companies laid the lead cables decades ago and thousands were left behind, posing a hidden health hazard today, the report said.
Fast forward to Lumen's earnings call on August 1, 2023. Here's what CFO Chris Stansbury had to say about the situation: "We began phasing out lead sheet cables from our network infrastructure during the 1950s. And based on our initial analysis, we currently estimate that less than 5% of our approximately 700,000-mile copper network contained lead, of which we believe the majority, is buried and conduit-based infrastructure."
Stansbury also emphasized Lumen's commitment to employee and public safety. He stated: "We thoughtfully manage our network to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve. We also regularly assess our safety protocols and meet established regulatory and scientific standards related to potential lead exposure for workers. Moving forward, we're committed to working with independent experts, regulators and our industry peers to maintain our positive track record of safety and compliance."
So what's next? A House lawmaker, Rep. Pat Ryan of New York, in July 2023 requested a congressional hearing about lead-sheathed cables. We'll be listening for updates.