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Half Of Problem Pipe Coupling Potentially Unreachable

State crews have dug out one half of a massive coupling blamed for a May 1 water main break that forced two million Boston-area residents to boil their drinking water, but fear that the other half will not be able to be studied.

Massachusetts Water Resource Agency officials said a 15-foot piece of the coupling was dug out by hand and removed for laboratory analysis. Officials said the other half, still attached by a single bolt, is buried much deeper and engineers are considering how to recover it.

"It's located physically underneath the pipe itself," said state Energy Secretary Ian Bowles, "so it'll be a complicated engineering task to figure out whether or not it can even be safely extracted."

The coupling is considered a key piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation of the pipe break in suburban Weston that left residents of 30 towns and cities, including Boston, without safe drinking water for three days.

The coupling’s maker says other factors also could have caused the break.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on July 29, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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