U.S. Lawmakers Order New LCS Study

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., recently rebuffed by the U.S. Navy in asking the service to review its Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, has turned to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to further examine the shipbuilding effort.

In a July 27 letter to the GAO, Hunter, joined by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., cited his concerns about the program’s historic cost overruns and schedule delays, and more recent corrosion and structural issues with the ships.

Hunter and Wittman asked the GAO to “review and as necessary update the August 2010 [GAO] report on the LCS program.” Specifically, the lawmakers want GAO to examine:

■ what the Navy is doing to overcome technical design flaws in the first two ships;

■ what the Navy is doing to make sure follow-on ships are delivered with cost and time estimates;

■ what actions the Navy has taken to make certain that mission packages have the capabilities they were intended to have; and

■ provide performance and operational maintenance date on the propulsion systems for both LCS variants.

Hunter, in a July 1 letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, had asked the service “to immediately conduct a formal review of the entire LCS program, provide an assessment of the technical design flaws of the current fleet and determine the best way forward to include the possibility of rebidding this contract so that the program can be put back on a fiscally responsible path to procurement.”

Mabus, in a July 7 reply, said the Navy had “faced and overcome the program’s past cost and schedule challenges,” and addressed many of the issues presented in the GAO’s 2010 report.

Noting that both ships have yet to complete all test and trial programs, Mabus wrote that the service now “is confident that we are on a path of success” with LCS.

In addition to Hunter, a group of seven senators, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have questioned the Pentagon’s handling of the LCS program. In a July 12 letter to Pentagon acquisition chief Ash Carter, the group questioned the Pentagon’s certification procedures allowing the program to go forward, and asked for more information on corrosion problems affecting the ships.

Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Hunter, explained that the San Diego-area congressman’s intent “is not to terminate the program.”

Rather, Kasper said, “it’s about efficiency of production, it’s about efficiency of dollars. And if there’s an opportunity to improve production and reduce costs in the process, then that’s important and something worth considering.”

SOURCE: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=7220977&c=AME&s=SEA

Duluth artwork gets some TLC

A team of art conservators chip away at the damage left by years of wear and tear at Duluth’s statues and monuments.

Public sculptures in Duluth received a makeover this week from an art conservation specialist and local apprentices.

Kristin Cheronis, a caretaker of public art in Minneapolis and St. Paul, used her tools to combat and prevent weather damage as well as the man- and bird-made destruction of artwork in local parks and pavilions.

“Our goal is to keep (the sculptures) strong and meaningful and as close to the artist’s original intent as we can,” she said.

She worked on “Spirit of the Lake” in Canal Park and “Green Bear” in Lake Place Park on Monday. On Tuesday, she moved on to the “Man, Child and Gull” in Canal Park and the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial on First Street.

Cheronis studied the three bronze figures at the memorial Tuesday with her hands on her hips. They got their start in the early afternoon and planned to spend the rest of the day on the project.

Within seconds she could tell that a bird likes to sit atop Clayton’s hat and that passersby often touch the trio’s shoes, which poke out of the concrete wall where they are inset. She noted streaks of green where the protective wax had thinned. She worried that a neighboring business’s painting project might stain the work.

Cheronis, sculpture technician David Fitzgerald and Penny Perry of the Duluth Public Arts Commission first wiped down the memorial with a non-ionic soap with sponges and gloved hands. An old layer of protective wax was stripped from the sculptures with turpentine. They planned to apply a fresh layer of wax, wait for it to dry, then to buff the art.

Left untended, the pieces would corrode, Cheronis said. The sculpture needs to be addressed at least every other year, with a full service job — like they performed this week — done every five years.

“In another five years, you wouldn’t see the forms,” said Cheronis, whose background is in studio art, art history and chemistry. “It would look seedy.”

Perry served as an apprentice, learning the basics of conservation so Duluth’s 25 to 30 pieces of outdoor public art can get regular attention from a local eye.

Earlier in the day she had seen man-made and natural corrosion damage such as chunks of bubble gum, flecks of nail polish and bird excrement, and learned to spot trouble areas, like the streaks of green worn into the figures at the memorial. She saw the “before and after” of two days of work.

“Working on these gives you a new appreciation,” she said. “When I see the ‘Green Bear’ now, I’m invested in it.”

Peter Spooner of the Duluth Public Arts Commission said public art adds character, and upkeep leads to pride in an area.

“They create a sense of a cared-for space or aesthetic space that people want to develop and keep looking good,” Spooner said.

The trio of workers attracted attention in the high-traffic pavilion on East First Street and Second Avenue East. A few people thanked them for their work, and one woman volunteered to help.

Henry Banks noticed the workers when he rode past on the bus. The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial was a project he initiated in 2000 as co-chairman of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Building Committee. He said he often stops by the site and said he appreciated the fix-up.

“This is timely and important,” he said, taking photographs. “People put heart and soul into this monument for our community.”

SOURCE: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/205307/

Corroded pipe caused Pierce County Sheriff’s boat to sink

It was a corroded water intake pipe that sank a Pierce County sheriff’s patrol boat docked at the Narrows Marina in Tacoma.

After an unsuccessful attempt to raise The Reliance out of the water Monday night, crews from Global Diving & Salvage Inc. were called in Tuesday morning.

They strapped multiple air bags to the 32-foot vessel and lifted it while pumping out water. The boat then was towed to shore, hoisted on a trailer and parked on the other side of the marina.

Crews discovered the cause of the problem as soon as the boat was raised from Puget Sound. Water began gushing back into the boat from a 2-inch metal pipe beneath The Reliance’s deck.

“It was kind of a battle to see how fast we could pump the water out and how fast it was coming in,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The pipe is one of two used to cool the engine.

“It’s a part that shouldn’t have failed,” Troyer said.

Although crews do regular maintenance on the boat, officials said, the corrosion wouldn’t necessarily have been seen on the outside of the pipe.

An insurance company employee inspected the boat after it was pulled from the water. Although it’s too soon to know, it’s possible that workers can salvage the twin diesel engines, hull and other high-ticket parts.

Marine experts are expected to inspect the vessel Wednesday and salvage what they can.

It’s too early to know whether the boat will be more expensive to repair or replace, Troyer said.

“If we can salvage it, we sure will,” he said.

The Reliance is the only patrol/rescue boat deputies use on Puget Sound. Tacoma and Gig Harbor police are on call for any problems on the waterway, but the Sheriff’s Office plans to move one of its patrol boats from a county lake while the sunken boat is assessed.

A family pulling in to get gas at the marina noticed the sinking boat Monday afternoon. Within 25 minutes, all of it was underwater except an antenna mast.

The Reliance has patrolled the Puget Sound since it was commissioned in 1994. It is valued at $500,000, officials said Monday.

The county spent $260,000 to have the boat built in 1994. It has spent more than $100,000 since to put in new engines and upgrade the electronics.

SOURCE: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/theblotter/2015663792_sheriffboat.html

Third North Slope oil spill in a week

Small oil spills on the North Slope are continuing to keep BP Alaska crews and state environmental officials busy this summer.

The company has had to deal with three small spills in just the last week, events that appear to be related to maintenance and testing activities.

BP Exploration Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart said Monday all three are still under investigation by company experts so it’s not clear whether corrosion — a major issue for the aging oil field — is to blame.

But summer is typically the time oil field maintenance and associated testing of facilities is at its height. “It’s a big busy season and while we don’t know the exact mechanism or cause of these three events, they happened at a time when pressures are going up and coming down,” Rinehart said. “And we’re in the middle of maintenance.”

On July 16, an underground section of pipe ruptured at the Lisburne field, dumping as many as 100 barrels of fluid — mostly methanol and water and a small amount of crude — onto a gravel pad and into a nearly tundra pond. The leak occurred while work crews were testing newly installed valves in that area.

Then on Thursday, July 21, BP discovered a new spill, this one in a flare pit at Flow Station 2 in the Prudhoe Bay unit. BP and state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said about 200 gallons of fluid — a mix of briny water, gas and crude oil — spilled into the flare pit at the production facility, creating an oil ring around the pit.

Rinehart said the oil is being cleaned up. “It was a minor event and there will be virtually no environmental impact,” he said, noting that the flare pit is designed as a place to burn oil and gas mixtures.

Flow Station 2 has been shut down while BP technicians look into what caused the leak. Rinehart said the company doesn’t anticipate any major problems due to the shutdown of the facility, which is where oil is separated from gas and water before the crude is sent to another processing facility before shipment down the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Also on Saturday, BP workers found another leak, this one less than a barrel in size, coming from a flow line called N-74 next to the N Pad. Rinehart said the spill was discovered while crews were testing an emergency shutdown system at the pad. The line was not in service at the time.

Again, Rinehart said, the company still isn’t know what caused the leak.

But corrosion is a serious issue on the North Slope and BP as well as other oil field operators spend tens of millions of dollars a year on maintenance and repair programs aimed at fighting the problem in facilities that are more than 30 years old. There are hundreds of miles of pipeline on the North Slope and thousands of valves and other pieces of equipment subject to corrosion.

Last year, after a years-long examination of oil spill records and reports, DEC officials found that flow lines in particular are susceptible to corrosion because the material they carry — the mix of water, gas and oil — is especially corrosive.

BP, in part due to major corrosion-related leaks in 2006 at Prudhoe Bay, has substantially beefed up its corrosion detection, maintenance and repair program. The 200,000-gallon spill prompted criminal charges against the company and lawsuits by the state and federal governments. In May, BP and the federal government reached a settlement of that case in which BP, in addition to steps it had already taken, agreed to independent monitoring of its facilities and to research new leak detection systems.

SOURCE: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/third-north-slope-oil-spill-week

Oil spill brings calls for scrutiny of small lines

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana oil spill that went unreported for a month has led to calls for increased scrutiny over the thousands of small flow pipelines within the nation’s oil and gas fields.

Flow lines are completely contained within the fields and pipe unprocessed oil, gas and water from wells to holding tanks and separating facilities and aren’t regulated like larger pipelines, such as the one that broke under the Yellowstone River earlier this month.

But flow lines often face the same issues of corrosion and defects, and should fall under the same federal regulation as larger transmission pipelines, conservation advocates say.

“They’re unregulated lines and they periodically have nasty spills,” said Lois Epstein, engineer and Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society in Alaska. “It’s a problem. Whether there is any motivation to do anything about it, is where we’re at right now.”

The broken line at the Cut Bank oil field on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation 50 miles east of Glacier National Park may have been slowly leaking oil for up to two weeks before FX Energy Inc. discovered it on June 12. FX Energy officials attributed the break to shifting ground during last month’s heavy rain and flooding.

The Salt Lake City-based company fixed the break and shut down the two small oil wells that fed the line, but never reported it to the tribe or the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the tribe’s mineral leases.

The spill — estimated to be up to 840 gallons — then spread nearly a mile down a steep coulee and into the Cut Bank Creek before a neighboring landowner discovered the stained ground on July 12.

A cleanup crew has been digging oil by hand from the steep, treacherous ravine for more than a week. There have been no signs of wildlife affected by the spill.

The company is paying for the cleanup and has pledged to permanently plug the wells that fed the broken line. Grinnell Day Chief, the tribe’s oil and gas director, said the company has been very cooperative.

FX Energy is one of the largest of the 15 oil and gas companies with production or exploration leases on the Cut Bank field. Combined with its five wells at Bears Den field and a small interest in two wells at Rattlers Butte field, FX Energy leases a total of 10,732 acres in Montana and produces 184 barrels of oil per day.

The broken flow line is one of many that gather oil from FX Energy’s 125 wells on the declining field, which has been producing oil since the 1940s. Many of the 4-inch flow lines are 40 or 50 years old, said Don Judice, the BLM’s Great Falls supervisor.

Because the failed line only carried unprocessed oil from wells to a central tank and never left the oil field, there were no requirements to inspect it, test it for corrosion or perform any preventative maintenance to ensure it doesn’t break.

“Only when a pipeline is used for longer-range transportation does it get more scrutiny,” Judice said. “There’s not a requirement within the regulations for the testing of flow lines.”

But depending on the outcome of an investigation into the recently discovered spill, federal officials may require FX Energy to upgrade all of the aging flow lines that carry oil from the wells to tanks on the Cut Bank field, Judice said.

It was not immediately clear how many flow lines there are, since the lines generally gather oil from more than one well. Judice and Day Chief each said they recalled only one other significant spill from a flow line in the past decade.

Day Chief said another oil company that leases a different part of the sprawling field is already in the process of voluntarily upgrading all of its flow lines. He said the tribe hasn’t discussed recommending a similar remedy for the FX Energy itself, but would support the BLM if it required FX Energy to do so.

“We would back that 100 percent,” Day Chief said.

SOURCE – and to Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Oil-spill-brings-calls-for-scrutiny-of-small-lines-1567351.php#ixzz1T7KnbGlW

Bridge inspection in Bristol, Massachusetts revealed ‘severe’ corrosion

Bristol, MA — The inspection that led the state to drop the Brightman Street Bridge weight limit to 3 tons noted “severe” deficiencies in multiple parts of the bridge, including some that were said to require action as soon as possible.

Five months after the inspection, the Department of Transportation hasn’t made the repairs because the bridge is expected to be replaced by late summer by the Veterans Memorial Bridge, a DOT spokesman said. The weight limit was lowered instead.

Corrosion in some locations was also so bad that parts of some beams had withered away entirely. The report, from an inspection in February, also described “wavy deformations” on some bridge supports and “severe cracking” — including some fissures longer than two feet — to some steel girders and beams.

In addition, 170 cracked steel bars were found on the bridge deck, and corrosion holes of up to 1.5 inches in steel grid primary bars, the inspection said.

The condition of multiple supports was marked “severe,” a 3 on a 0-to-9 scale, indicating deterioration, or cracking steel or concrete that made “local failures… possible.”

Brightman street bridge
Advanced deterioration throughout the length of a sidewalk stringer on the Brightman Street Bridge.

The DOT said in a statement that safety remains its highest priority.

“Mass DOT carefully monitors and inspects all bridges on a routine basis,” spokesman Michael Verseckes said. “Through a combination of strategic repairs and the reduction in the weight limit, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure the Brightman Street Bridge is safe for travel for ordinary motor vehicles as well as ambulances. We look forward to the opening of the new Veterans Memorial Bridge in the near future.”

The inspection focused on five parts of the bridge — the deck and various support beams and girders — that had also previously been noted as being in “severe” condition. The only worse conditions on the rating guide are “critical,” in which the bridge may need to be closed until repairs are made, “imminent failure,” in which the bridge is closed but could be repaired, and “failed,” when a bridge is beyond repair.

Photos included in the report show cracks to the steel bars in the middle of the bridge span, major deterioration to support beams below the sidewalk, cracked welds, and corrosion in numerous other areas.

A cover sheet to the inspection report dated May 24 suggested the weight limit for vehicles be lowered from 9 tons to 3 until the recommended repairs were made or until the bridge was taken out of service. The weight limit was reduced about a month later.

Since then, despite police presence leading to the bridge, vehicles that well exceed the limit have been seen passing over the bridge anyway, including an 18-wheeler soon after the limit was changed. Ambulances, which can weigh up to 9 tons, were allowed an exception as long as they’re driven in the middle of the two travel lanes. One beam below the bridge deck, called a stringer beam, was repaired last weekend.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge is planned to open in August or September, but no specific dates have been given.

SOURCE: http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x1009566775/Brightman-Street-Bridge-inspection-revealed-severe-deficiencies#ixzz1Spm8Dl37

Patrol Squadron 40 makes corrosion control top priority

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 air crewmen are combining teamwork and the latest technology to overhaul corrosion on the squadron’s forward-deployed P-3C aircraft.

As newer P-8 reconnaissance aircraft await introduction into the fleet, VP-40 leadership has made preventative maintenance and corrosion control a top priority on their aging P-3C Orions. By taking ownership of the existing aircraft, VP-40 Sailors say they are extending the life of each aircraft.

”

After a certain number of flight hours, we take the whole bird apart and check for corrosion and make sure everything works,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Vinh Tran. “Then, we mark corrosion points and document it on our computer systems.”

VP-40 aircraft maintainers use these computer systems to update fleet and wing commanders of their progress in real time. By identifying corrosion and coordinating all the tools at their disposal, Tran says it improves the accountability and communication between VP-40 maintainers and other commands.

“Sometimes we have to replace parts, but since we have such a good system we can take apart, refurbish, and repair an entire aircraft in two to three weeks,” said Tran.

Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Ruel Beck said that the real difficulty in these kinds of repairs is finding the corrosion. Beck said even small nuts and bolts can have corrosion in between metal threading, so maintainers have to perform an exhaustive search of the aircraft, internally and externally.

With an aluminum airframe, Beck said that the P-3C has unique challenges concerning corrosion. Different from rust on iron or steel, Beck said corroded aluminum has a different structure on the molecular level, requiring different methods to counteract.

“The biggest problem with corrosion is exfoliation corrosion, where the metal is expanding. In those cases, the corrosion acts similar to rust, weakening the strength of the metal. However, we have to use different tools to tackle it,” said Beck. “Using the right chemicals and equipment, we can get rid of exfoliation corrosion quickly.”

Beck didn’t appear worried about the challenge of taking apart and fixing an entire aircraft in less than three weeks. Even at the rapid pace of operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, Beck said that VP-40 maintainers are ready for anything.

”

Anything corroded, we’re going to find and we’re going to fix,” said Beck. “It’s just that simple.”

SOURCE: http://www.c7f.navy.mil/news/2011/07-july/030.htm

 

Corrosion from WWII shipwrecks could threaten U.S. coast

Fuel, cargo tanks corroding

On the evening of Feb. 2, 1942, an unarmed tanker with 66,000 barrels of crude oil on board was steaming in the Atlantic, about 90 miles off Ocean City. Without warning, it was struck by German torpedoes. The attack set the W.L. Steed ablaze, and sank it; only a handful of the crew of 38 survived.

As World War II unfolded, the Germans had moved part of their sub pack west to attack shipping along the coast. By the time the Nazis withdrew the subs in July to focus on convoys crossing the North Atlantic, they had sunk 397 ships in U.S. coastal waters.

That wartime legacy has become a new environmental problem, raising concern about leaks from the W.L. Steed’s sunken fuel bunkers and cargo — and from many others like it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking an inventory of more than 30,000 coastal shipwrecks — some of them casualties of the 1942 Battle of the Atlantic — and identifying those that pose the most significant threat.

“We’re starting to see significant corrosion. Vessels that weren’t totally torpedoed didn’t break apart and may have intact fuel tanks,” NOAA’s Lisa C. Symons said.

It’s not just the ship’s own fuel bunkers, either. Many, like the W.L. Steed, sank with holds filled with crude oil, fuel oil, diesel fuel and explosives. Leaks of those products “could devastate coastal communities and coastal environments,” Symons said.

So far, the worst-threat list has been narrowed to 233 vessels, said Symons, damage assessment and resource protection coordinator for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries office in Silver Spring.

The final list will be submitted by year’s end to the Coast Guard. Once priorities are established, efforts to remove the oil from the wrecks could begin, paid through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is supported by the oil industry.

While NOAA’s risk assessments are not complete, Symons did identify five sunken ships — four within 60 miles of the coast — that could make the list as environmental threats to Maryland. They include:

  • John Morgan, a Liberty ship built in 1943 at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards in Baltimore. In June 1943, on its maiden voyage, it collided with another vessel off Cape Henry and sank with a cargo of fighter planes, tanks, arms and ammunition. Sixty-seven crew members and armed guards perished.
  • Marine Electric, a coal carrier out of Norfolk, Va. With 3,600 barrels of fuel oil in its bunkers, it foundered in heavy seas and sank 30 miles east of Chincoteague Inlet in February 1983. Thirty-one of the 34 crew members died in the frigid water.
  • Varanger, a Norwegian tanker. It was torpedoed on Jan. 25, 1942, while carrying 12,750 tons of fuel oil. As the crew took to lifeboats, the Germans fired three more torpedoes. The ship sank 28 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J., but the lifeboats were spotted and fishing boats towed them to shore.
  • India Arrow, an oil tanker. On Feb. 5, 1942, the tanker, carrying 88,369 barrels of diesel fuel, was torpedoed 20 miles southeast of Cape May, N.J. Nine officers and 29 crew abandoned ship, but only 12 survived.

Spills from wrecks are a global threat, with the highest concentration of ships lying in the western Pacific. But the U.S. coastline, too, is littered with vessels sunk by Japanese and German submarines, in collisions or storms.

NOAA is using a $1 million appropriation secured last year by Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings to inventory wrecks and identify environmental threats. Part of NOAA’s task has been to comb through ship manifests, naval records, reports of sinkings, insurance documents and survivors’ accounts to determine which ships burned and which probably went down with their fuel and cargo.

From that, the agency can work to identify those posing the greatest risk of leaking, and those offering opportunities for salvage operations to recover the oil or other cargo before it becomes a costly spill.

Some are already leaking. The most famous example is the 608-foot battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Sunk Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack, it went down with 1,177 sailors on board, and 1.1 million gallons of fuel. About half of that fuel remains on board and continues to leak into the harbor.

At a Baltimore conference last month, David L. Conlin of the National Park Service said his study of the leak found that previously intact fuel compartments are still corroding, rupturing and releasing their contents.

While Conlin’s study concluded there is “no pressing need” for “invasive” procedures to enter the ship — which is a war grave — to recover the fuel, it also suggests how long these 70-year-old wrecks may remain environmental concerns.

“Three hundred sixty years from now, in the core part of the USS Arizona, the oil bunkers here will still have significant structural integrity,” he said.

SOURCE (and Read More): http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-07-08/news/bs-md-shipwreck-oil-20110708_1_fuel-oil-fuel-bunkers-crude-oil

Coal scrubbers are corroding

Ohio pollution controls are showing wear after as little as a year.

Coal-fired power plants across the country are being checked for corrosion problems on billions of dollars’ worth of equipment that is supposed to cut air pollution. And the results from three power companies in Ohio show that the  scrubbers are corroding at a much faster rate than was expected.

Coal scrubbers – some 15 stories tall — spray a slurry of water and limestone into coal flumes to capture most of the pollutants before they’re released into the air. The scrubbers cost up to $500 million, and are supposed to last 25 years.

But Akron-based FirstEnergy discovered corrosion in three new scrubbers at its plant along the Ohio River. None of is older than a year.  American Electric Power also found corrosion at four plants in Ohio and West Virginia. And Duke Energy found it at its Southwest Ohio plant.

A national inquiry is now underway by The Electric Power Research Institute.

John Shingledecker is the senior project manager for the institute. He says he’s seen corrosion in as little as 11 months, and in wide variety of scrubbers.

“There was some initial thought that there was only one particular alloy that was being affected,” he said.

“But there are now different types of alloys, some that have been used in the past as well. And we’ve seen it in multiple designs and multiple manufacturers.”

Shingledecker says figuring out the cause of the corrosion could  take two years, and  in the meantime coal-fired power plants can use protective coatings or clay tiles to try to stop the corrosion.

But American Electric Power spokesman Pat Hemlepp says his company’s scrubbers are operating safely.

”We are working with the industry to address what happening. As far as an environmental standpoint, the equipment does what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “The equipment is taken down for maintenance routinely just like the plants are. And we’re doing whatever is necessary during those maintenance periods to take care of the corrosion issue. It’s not a safety issue, it’s not a health issue.”

Hemlepp says the cost of maintaining the scrubbers has already been calculated into customer bills.

The Columbus Dispatch reported this week that AEP negotiated a confidential settlement with, a contractor on the scrubbers to address corrosion at its central Ohio plants.

SOURCE: http://www.wksu.org/news/story/28895

Another corroded fixture found – Big Dig lighting problems continue

A work crew found another extensively corroded light fixture in a Big Dig tunnel last Thursday, state transportation officials said on Friday, five months after an identical 110-pound fixture came crashing down in the Tip O’Neill tunnel.

Workers driving through a ramp connecting Leverett Circle to the O’Neill Tunnel Thursday noticed a light was vibrating from a nearby jet fan and was askew. When they looked more closely, they found that five of the 10 clips that secured the light to the ceiling were corroded, leaving the light only partially secured.

Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan said the corroded fixture discovered Thursday had been inspected in May as part of a systemwide review that found widespread corrosion in the Big Dig tunnels. But Mullan could not say why the corrosion on the Leverett Circle light fixture was not discovered during the earlier inspection.

“We’re working it. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly,’’ he said. “I know it was next to a jet fan. I’ve got my engineering team working on it right now.’’

Workers removed the corroded light fixture discovered Thursday and then reattached it using plastic straps, a remedy that has been used on many lights in the Big Dig’s tunnels since the light fixture collapse in February. Of the system’s 25,000 light fixtures, more than 9,000 have been reinforced with straps.

Mullan, whose department came under criticism for not telling the public about the fallen light fixture for more than a month, announced the latest findings yesterday, unprompted, to reporters who were inquiring about his decision to step down later this year. The Massachusetts Transportation Department also posted a full report about the situation online yesterday.

Earlier this week, Mullan suspended the Big Dig’s top engineer, Helmut Ernst, after Ernst told the Globe that he and his colleagues were trained not to leave a paper trail about safety issues in the tunnels for fear of litigation.

The incident report suggested that forced air from the jet fan may have caused the Leverett Circle light to vibrate more than normal. The report also suggested that the testing conducted in May, which involved prying loose the clips that connect light fixtures to the ceiling, may have weakened those clips. That type of testing was suspended later in the month “because of the potential for damage’’ to the clips, the incident report showed.

SOURCE: http://articles.boston.com/2011-07-16/news/29781932_1_light-fixture-tunnel-corrosion