Kentucky Senator Rand Paul delays widely backed pipeline safety measure

WASHINGTON — Despite industry backing and bipartisan support, legislation to improve pipeline safety is being delayed by Sen. Rand Paul, who contends it shouldn’t be given expedited Senate consideration because it contains new federal regulations.

He also criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for mismanaging the legislative process in an effort to pass the bill quickly.

“I believe legislation should have open debate and votes,” Paul, R-Ky., said in a statement Wednesday. “It need not take weeks. Certainly we could spend an afternoon for the people’s elected representatives to discuss whether they got massive new regulations right.”

The Senate’s Democratic leaders want the bill passed using a fast-track procedure — with no debate and a voice vote when many senators might not even be present — that would allow them to spend most of the dwindling time left in this session on legislation aimed at job creation.

But such speedy passage of bills requires unanimous consent, and Paul is the lone member objecting.

Senate leaders could overcome Paul’s objections by considering the bill under normal Senate procedures — requiring 60 votes to cut off debate. But to do so would require more time.

At issue this time is the reauthorization, through 2014, of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency that oversees the nation’s 2.5 million miles of oil, gas and hazardous materials pipelines.

The reauthorization bill, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Jay Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, includes several new safety provisions adopted after some major pipeline accidents, including one last year in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and injured dozens more. Since 2006, an average of 40 pipeline accidents each year have caused fatalities or injuries.

Paul said in his statement that “absolutely nothing in the current bill would have prevented the recent pipeline problems, or would have prevented the tragedy in San Bruno last year.”

“The bill puts in place new mandates; it hires new bureaucrats,” he said. “But it doesn’t properly diagnose the problem, and it grandfathers in the very pipelines that have had recent problems. It makes no sense. As a doctor, I find it offensive to rush through treatment when you haven’t diagnosed the problem properly.”

Among the new safety steps are increased civil penalties for violating pipeline regulations, new civil penalties for obstructing investigations, additional safeguards for digging around utilities, requirements for shut-off valves in new pipelines, and additional pipeline inspectors and safety experts.

“While our pipeline system is largely safe, when accidents occur the consequences can be catastrophic,” Lautenberg said in a statement in May. “This bill would help to ensure the safety and efficiency of our pipeline network.”

The bill was approved unanimously in May by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and sent to the Senate. Paul is not on that committee.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the American Gas Association and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines all back the legislation.

In a July 26 letter to senators, the industry groups said “our organizations support continuous improvement in pipeline safety. (The Lautenberg-Rockefeller bill) would provide legal support for important ‘next steps’ in improving safety.”

The new regulations proposed in the bill would be subject to risk-assessment and cost-benefit analysis, the groups said, adding that the pipeline safety program “is completely paid for by industry — not taxpayers.”

“We thought (the bill) provided a reasonable framework and good congressional guidance for the regulators to go ahead and proceed down a path that would enhance pipeline safety over time,” said Jerry Morris, president and CEO of Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline Inc. in Owensboro, who spoke to Paul about the matter in a June meeting in Owensboro.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supports the pipeline bill, but also defends Paul.

“Senator McConnell believes that every senator has the right to ask for sufficient time to review important legislation,” said spokesman Robert Steurer.

Paul insisted he was not a roadblock.

“The Senate can deal with and likely pass the new pipeline regulations bill,” he said. “In fact, they could have done so at any time since this bill has been ready since July. Time could have been scheduled for debate and votes during any one of the many weeks we sit here all week with few votes.

“The fact is Senate Democrat leaders woefully mismanage the process in the Senate, leaving days and weeks of ineffectively used time, then asserting that bills need to pass with no debate or vote at all,” Paul said.

Given the broad support for the bill, Reid apparently would have the 60 votes needed to overcome Paul’s opposition, but it could take additional time for passage.

SOURCE: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20110928/NEWS01/309280085/Kentucky-Senator-Rand-Paul-delays-widely-backed-pipeline-safety-measure?odyssey=tab%7Cmostpopular%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Search for gas leaks in Seattle cut short before blast

Puget Sound Energy says electrical arcing caused by a fallen tree created holes in natural-gas pipes, leading to an explosion at a North Seattle house.

After a rare electrical problem blew four holes in natural-gas pipes in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood on Sunday, Puget Sound Energy says, the agency went house to house in the neighborhood to check for more leaks. Its workers stopped at nightfall, without finding more.

It wasn’t until the next day, after a huge explosion and house fire, that PSE did a much larger “leak survey” across a 5-square-mile area, working into the night. Crews found four more leaks, but say at least three are unrelated.

With customers and Seattle residents rattled Tuesday, PSE defended its initial search. Sunday’s testing area — which stopped just blocks short of the explosion site — focused on areas with similar pipe, said Martha Monfried, PSE’s communications director.

She said it would not have been safe to continue the leak survey into the night. “You can’t do residential survey work in the dark, for both worker safety and for the comfort level of homeowners,” she said.

But Mark McDonald, a natural-gas expert who speaks about catastrophic leaks, said PSE should have gone farther.

“I would go at least 10 blocks in every direction to make sure we got all the leaks,” said McDonald, president of the New England Gas Association, an umbrella group of unionized utility workers. “Night, storm, whatever, you go farther than you need to be safe. It obviously was a mistake.”

Storm blamed for “arcing”

The source of the leaks, according to the utility, originated during a windstorm Sunday.

At about 11:30 a.m., a tree came in contact with one of the three overhead electrical distribution lines on Northeast 127th Street between 12th Avenue Northeast and 10th Avenue Northeast, said Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen. The incident tripped the breakers and the circuit quickly shut off.

“Our equipment’s role is to ground out that short, and the system operated the way it’s designed to operate,” said Thomsen.

According to PSE, the electrical current, conducted through the tree, energized a wrapped steel natural-gas pipe, causing a problem known as “arcing.” The current blew a series of BB- or finger-sized holes in the pipe, according to the utility.

On Tuesday, PSE said the supply pipe and gas meter found at the blast site showed a hole just inches outside the Ingham home, at 12312 Fifth Ave. N.E., about seven blocks from where the power tripped Sunday.

The natural-gas service line to their home was pressurized at 45 pounds per square inch, according to PSE. It won’t be clear until an investigation is completed how the gas got into the home, but experts theorized that the gas could have leaked in through a foundation.

Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore confirmed that investigators determined there was an accumulation of gas inside the house. But it wasn’t clear if the buildup was from the leak outside the house or from a second leak that might have occurred inside, he said.

Two engineers from the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) are investigating Monday’s fire and explosion, as well as PSE’s response to Sunday’s gas leaks.

Dave Lykken, pipeline safety director for the commission, said the neighborhood’s natural-gas pipes are probably 1960s-vintage — with some new plastic pipe — and are considered safe.

UTC requires utilities to routinely check natural-gas pipelines for corrosion. PSE said it conducts neighborhood leak surveys every three years; it last checked the Pinehurst area in November 2008, said Andy Wappler, a PSE spokesman.

In the more exhaustive survey ordered after the explosion, PSE found four new leaks, but said at least three were unrelated and characterized them as small enough that they would be treated as scheduled — rather than emergency — repairs in a different situation. The other leak remains under investigation.

A third survey began Tuesday, and a fourth is planned.

SOURCE: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016332869_gasleak28m.html

Zinc Ribbon or Copper for AC Mitigation – that is the question…

Team members of MATCOR have been involved in several online discussions (LinkedIn) about the pros and cons of Zinc Ribbon for use in AC Mitigation. So we thought we would share our expertise in this subject on our blog.

Below are 4 reasons why we believe Copper (and our AC Mitigation product, “The Mitigator“) is a superior solution to Zinc Ribbon.

  • Formation of passive films on the surface of the zinc can cause a significant electropositive shift in the zinc potential over a period of time; this generally occurs over a period of days or weeks. The general rule of thumb is that the concentration of chlorides and sulfates must be measurably greater than the sum of the concentrations of bicarbonates, carbonates, nitrates and phosphates; otherwise with time the zinc corrosion potential will shift electropositive. Plattline’s Web site notes that zinc ribbon is “generally used with gypsum backfill”; however, too often for AC Mitigation applications, no consideration is given to placing the zinc ribbon in a specially prepared backfill (this should be general practice).
  • Zinc faces high consumption/corrosion rates in the presence of AC. A.W. Peabody has noted that AC can “create an especially high corrosion rate with buried aluminum, magnesium and zinc”. Testing of zinc electrodes at an AC Current density of 155 A/m2 found a 15-20 fold increase in the consumption rate of zinc. R.A. Gummow, a corrosion engineer and a NACE International accredited Corrosion Specialist, notes that “accelerated corrosion of zinc ribbon AC mitigation facilities must be expected and needs to be accounted for in the cathodic protection design despite the lack of information on the magnitude of the accelerating effect”.
  • The effect on existing impressed current CP systems: the use of zinc anodes directly connected to the pipeline for AC mitigation can interfere with existing impressed current CP systems in a way that is both difficult to model and to predict. In some cases, the zinc anodes can become an additional load, particularly if the zinc is not located in a prepared backfill and has shifted to a more electropositive potential. In other cases, the zinc anode may be providing and/or supplementing galvanic current to the CP system in which case it will be consumed over time – note that the presence of AC often increases significantly the consumption rate. This could result in premature consumption of the zinc ribbon as an AC Mitigation system.
  • The effect of the zinc ribbon on potential surveys when directly connected to the pipeline can be erratic and difficult to interpret, rendering these surveys inconclusive or invalid. Given the emphasis on integrity management and the additional risks posed by AC Induced Corrosion in collocated right-of-way (ROW) corridors, the negative impact that the zinc ribbon might have on survey data could make CIS surveys invalid and increase the need for and frequency of Inline Inspections (ILI).

In addition to these 4 key reasons, MATCOR’s ‘The Mitigator‘ is the pipeline industry’s first engineered AC Mitigation grounded system, with greater ease of installation and lower overall cost.

NTSB releases official report on San Bruno explosion

On Monday, September 26, The National Transportation Safety Board released its full report into the investigation of the deadly PG&E gas line explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people, injured several others and destroyed several homes.

Federal officials last month released some of its key findings, including the probable cause, conclusions and a complete list of safety recommendations, and denounced PG&E for “a litany of failures” that led to the deadly San Bruno blast on Sept. 9, 2010.

The NTSB released on its website a 140-page report titled “Pacific Gas and Electric Company Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire.” The report includes a narrative of what happened leading up to the explosion,

Last month, Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, accused the company of having “exploited weaknesses” in government pipeline regulations “to the detriment of public safety.” She noted that the seeds of the disaster were sown in 1956 when PG&E first assembled the shoddily welded steel pipe through San Bruno’s Crestmoor neighborhood.

Included in the NTSB findings is PG&E’s failure for 54 years to detect a serious welding flaw in the pipe, which finally broke apart Sept. 9 when an electrical glitch at a Milpitas gas-line terminal caused a slight increase in gas pressure.

The investigative board also heavily criticized the California Public Utilities Commission and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for inadequately supervising PG&E.

SOURCE: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_18979515?nclick_check=1

Canadian officials dismiss accident risks on oilsands pipeline

Ottawa – Federal bureaucrats are casting doubts on claims that a controversial oilsands pipeline expansion in the United States would be prone to accidents because of the corrosive nature of crude oil derived from Alberta’s bitumen deposits, according to internal government briefing notes.

The possibility of pipeline leaks caused by the crude oil from the region, commonly referred to as the tarsands, was raised in February by several American environmental and advocacy groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The concerns were dismissed at the time by the Alberta government as well as TransCanada, which is proposing the multi-billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would link the oilsands to the Gulf Coast of Texas.

An assessment of the environmental groups’ report by Natural Resources Canada, released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation, has also defended the safety of the project while acknowledging the damaging nature of the warnings on public opinion.

“This is a new area of research for everyone,” said a briefing note drafted by Bruce Akins, a senior adviser on oil and gas regulations issues at Natural Resources Canada. “Further, (a government scientific research unit) suggests that with proper care and treatment, a pipeline carrying more corrosive products should be able to last as long as one carrying less corrosive products.”

Akins also warned that the NRDC report could influence the project’s fate as well as another pipeline project, proposed by Enbridge, that would link the oilsands with the British Columbia coast.

“However, once posted on the Internet, an (environmental group’s) report tends to have its own life, and will be cited repeatedly, regardless of whether some or all of its assertions have been debunked, or responded to,” said the briefing note. “What will be most important is whether this report, and its recommendation to not certificate the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. until further safety research has taken place and regulations passed (which would take years), is taken seriously by the U.S. administration.”

A scientist at the department’s research lab, CanmetENERGY, who is studying the corrosive properties of different petroleum products, explained in an interview that the high Total Acid Number of bitumen crude oil would not cause corrosion at temperatures under 200 C.

“Since the pipeline is running at much lower temperature, say 55 degrees centigrade, this is not going to have any impact on it,” said Heather Dettman, a bio-processing senior scientist who is based in Alberta. “The TAN can impact in the refineries, but you have to be above (temperatures of) 200 degrees Celsius.”

She said water could also cause corrosion, but noted this also applies to other forms of oil if the pipeline is not adequately built.

The assurances from the Canadian government were immediately rejected by Richard Kuprewicz, an engineer who advises a U.S. government safety panel on pipelines. Kuprewicz said that weaker existing regulations in the U.S., compared to Canada, could allow for corrosion, even at temperatures under 100 C.

“I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but they have no idea what they’re talking about,” said Kuprewicz, who runs a pipeline consulting firm. “This line will have water in it, just by the nature of the beast.”

But he stressed that the company could address concerns promptly if it was willing to work with environmental groups.

“These aren’t deal killers but you’ve got to address them right up front,” said Kuprewicz. “If the parties were to get in a room and act as adults and clearly address their concerns, and rather than be in denial and try to fight, the parties could say, we could address these issues by (working together).”

Recent protests against the Keystone expansion project that have provoked hundreds of arrests in the U.S. have been indirectly aimed at growth of the oilsands industry which requires higher amounts of water, energy and land use when compared with conventional oil production.

Recent statistics from Environment Canada have revealed that the oilsands industry now contributes to global warming more than all of the cars on Canadian roads and that it is projected to continue exponential growth that could cancel out efforts of other Canadian industries to reduce their carbon footprint and meet targets set by Prime Minister Stephen Harper under the Copenhagen climate change agreement.

Policy analysts at the Natural Resources Defense Council said the existing evidence from the records of pipeline companies indicate that the U.S. government and scientists have not done enough research to analyze the risks.

“What we’re calling for is additional study,” said Anthony Swift from NRDC international program. “We’re seeing new pipelines devoted to the movement of this particular substance and the fact that we’re moving forward on these projects with no due diligence is highly disturbing.”

SOURCE: http://www.canada.com/business/Exclusive+Feds+dismiss+accident+risks+oilsands+pipeline/5432407/story.html#ixzz1YjMH99vP

Corrosion problems identified in Melbourne’s City Loop

Serious structural problems in Melbourne’s City Loop – including cracking tunnel walls, concrete corrosion  – have been ignored by successive state governments and train operators despite repeated warnings.

A 2001 report, also obtained by The Age, revealed the loop was suffering from long-term structural corrosion caused by possible contamination of the original concrete mix.

Damage to concrete plinths was leading to ”heavy corrosion” of steel reinforcements, potentially undermining the tracks. At worst, a derailment ”must be considered possible”, said the report, commissioned by infrastructure contractor Thiess Infraco.

Transport Safety Victoria has also expressed concern about the 30-year-old loop, after receiving a letter of complaint from the train drivers’ union. The letter, addressed to Metro and copied to the Coroner, said drivers had ”grave concerns” about the operator’s failure to address evacuation procedures.

The drivers say they are not trained for emergencies in the loop. Their occupational health and safety representatives yesterday issued Metro with a formal warning that will trigger a WorkSafe investigation.

The Age investigation into City Loop safety has revealed:

  • Drawings of fire-protected areas of underground stations have been lost.
  • A recent CSIRO study of the smoke extraction fans found some were performing to a capacity of only 25 per cent.
  • Train drivers have noticed record levels of water seeping through the walls, along the tracks and on the emergency walkways. Metro says, however, that the water is not a safety risk.
  • Train drivers have been asking Metro for six months for an after-hours train to inspect the tunnels. Metro has refused.

Metro, which took over the rail system from Connex in 2009, could not confirm yesterday whether these problems had been tackled.

But it said structural problems with the concrete would be addressed in a rehabilitation program starting next April.

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said 6125 sleepers would also be replaced by November as part of general maintenance.

She said two independent reports – one commissioned by government and one by Metro – had concluded that safety standards had been met.

In a statement to The Age, the Department of Transport said the loop was performing ”optimally” and ”a range of maintenance, repair and mitigation” measures had been conducted since the 2001 report.

The loop had been tested – including state-of-the-art smoke testing – and emergency exercises completed. ”The department believes the potential for a train derailment in the rail loop is extremely low,” it said.

”The emergency walkways located in the loop are subject to ongoing maintenance and repair.” Representatives from the government’s insurance authority had recently inspected the walkways and found them in an ”adequate condition”.

Transport Minister Terry Mulder did not answer when asked by The Age whether he knew about the reports. But he said he expected the department and Metro to hold safety as paramount. ”As minister, my priority is for the safety and security of passengers,” he said.

SOURCE: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/city-loop-safety-fears-20110921-1klbd.html#ixzz1YjH0c7qH

House pipeline bill would delay new safety measures

As the President considers whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would prohibit regulators from implementing safety rules recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The agency charged with regulating the nations 2.5 million miles of pipelines, the Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, became a target for reform as reports detailed the dept’s understaffing and heavy ties to industry.

Lawmakers from communities impacted by the recent disasters promised to strengthen pipeline oversight in legislation to reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs, but action has been slow, and a bill that moved through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this month is distressingly weak, pipeline safety advocates say.

The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, sponsored by Bill Shuster (R-PA) requires the Dept. of Transportation to conduct a study on expanding “integrity management rules” for how pipeline operators test and monitor their lines for corrosion and other problems.

Under current rules PHMSA only requires regular testing on lines that run through “high consequence areas” — places that are highly populated or ecologically sensitive.

The Shuster bill prohibits regulators from expanding integrity management requirements beyond high consequence areas.

It also requires regulators to study and report on leak detection systems, but prohibits the dept. from developing new standards for leak detection systems or requiring operators to use them.

As the committee took up and reported the bill on Sept. 8, Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, criticized the measure as a “partisan industry-driven effort.”

“The weak nature of this proposed legislation seems to ignore the specific strong recommendations just a week ago from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the voiced intention of many within the pipeline industry to use the tragedies of the past fifteen months as the impetus to move pipeline safety forward in many areas.”

The NTSB report on the San Bruno pipeline explosion recommended that PHMSA require all operators to equip systems with tools for detecting leaks, require automatic shut-off valves in high consequence areas, require pressure testing for all pre-1970 gas lines and implement enhanced oversight of pipeline integrity management programs.

Shuster’s bill neglects all of these items, Weimer said.

“Just last week NTSB recommended that to avoid more tragedies like San Bruno regulations should be changed to ‘require automatic shutoff valves or remote control valves in high consequence areas and in class 3 and 4 locations be installed,’” he said. “This bill, unlike the bill from House Energy and Power, does not even ask for a study of installing such important valves on existing pipelines through populated communities.”

In July the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power approved pipeline safety legislation that set deadlines for updates leak detection rules and automated valve use and placement, and strengthened guidelines for river crossings, and gas gathering lines.

The two House bills must now be reconciled.

Association of Oil Pipelines President and CEO Andy Black commended the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for “passing a strong reauthorization bills that wisely avoids imposing new regulations without sufficient evidence current regulatory requirements have failed.”

In an open letter, Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) warned that the House Transportation Committee bill would block important reforms and urged PHMSA to immediately adopt all of NTSB’s latest pipeline safety recommendations.

SOURCE: http://michiganmessenger.com/52610/house-pipeline-bill-would-delay-new-safety-measures

Footbridge closed as it’s ‘dangerous’ due to corrosion

THE INSPECTION in the United Kingdom which led to the closure of the footbridge to Whitby’s West Pier extension has revealed a long standing history of corrosion and decay.

Scarborough Borough Council’s report, compiled the day after the inspection a fortnight ago talks of “corrosion”, “failure” and “dangerous”.

The inspector examined the primary beams which are positioned at either side of the bridge and secondary beams which sit between them and support the wooden decking which pedestrians walk on.

Findings suggest the beams have not been painted or treated for some considerable time and given the exposure to airborne seasalt this has accelerated corrosion.

The report states: “The primary and secondary beams may once have been painted but there is now no evidence of a painted surface to any of the beams or associated fixings.

“This has resulted in significant corrosion leading to delamination which can be expected to result in a significant reduction in functionality.”

The primary beams which span 11.7 meters and 13 meters are undersized for the load it is carrying according to current British standards.

Furthermore supporting steel work appears to be 20% corroded and associated fixings are “exhibiting signs of extensive corrosion greater than 50% of their net cross section which could lead to failure of the beams.”

The balustrade posts and railings are painted but spot chips and cracks in the finishing coat were noted along with corrosion staining.

But the metalwork which fixed the posts and railings to the bridge are severely corroded.

The report says: “While the balustrade is overall in what can be considered in fair condition, the connection to the primary beam is near to failure and is considered dangerous.”

The report’s suggested future options have done nothing to stop rumors circulating town that the bridge is to be demolished and access to the extension being permanently cut off.

Three possible ways forward include: bridge removal and abandonment of access, replacement of the footbridge in its entirety or another more detailed inspection and refurbishment which would include removing the bridge to allow for the works.

But the report says this could be more costly than replacement.

Council member Joe Plant, who represents the West Cliff ward, said the first he heard of any issues with the extension and the footbridge was when he learned it had been closed along with everyone else and as far as he was concerned demolition or permanent closure “was not an option”.

He told the Gazette: “I have asked the question and in my view we should be looking at replacing the east and the west from the same funding pot.

“I have also asked for the maintenance regime. If this has not been done, why not? I know money is tight at the moment for a lot of things but at the end of the day if you maintain things it will save you money in the long run.”

Brian Bennett, SBC’s head of tourism and culture has said officers are looking at the possibility of re-opening the bridge to limited foot traffic pending a further inspection that requires scaffolding being put up.

This had to be postponed last week due to high winds but Mr Bennett added SBC had been in touch with English Heritage and a bridge manufacturer about a replacement.

If this goes ahead it is likely it will be manufactured off site, then delivered and installed.

SOURCE: http://www.whitbygazette.co.uk/news/local/footbridge_closed_as_it_s_dangerous_1_3790004

Mercier Bridge inspections reveal alarming decay

Quebec has released long-awaited inspection reports on Montreal’s Mercier Bridge that confirm rapidly accelerating decay in the aging structure forced its closure earlier this summer.

Corrosion noted in a 2011 inspection was so advanced that some bridge parts were perforated and deformed, the reports say.

In particular, the report said, 10 gusset plates that hold beams in an interlocking pattern are severely eroded.

Of 346 bridge parts inspected, 86 were given a “1” rating, meaning that they were deemed “incapable of perfoming required task.”

The 2011 report was dated June 11, and the Transport Ministry banned most traffic from the bridge three days later, citing the need for critical repairs to remedy safety-threatening corrosion and rust.

But Transport Minister Pierre Moreau was quick to point out that long-term repairs to remedy decay were underway when the span was shut down.

“The deterioration was going at a faster rate than what we expected,” but the bridge was in no danger of collapsing, Moreau said at a news conference Monday.

All emergency repairs have been completed, but other work is in progress.

The Mercier Bridge partially reopened Sept. 6, with remaining lanes scheduled to open in December if all repairs are completed.

The summer closure angered South Shore residents, officials and business owners who rely on the Mercier Bridge for daily commutes into the city.

The Transport Ministry has released inspection reports from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 on its website.

The Mercier Bridge comprises two structures, one built in the 1930s and another inbound arm built in the 1960s.

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2011/09/19/mercier-bridge-inspection-reports-released.html

Indian oil pipelines under tight surveillance

INDIA: Oil companies in Kochi have upped their surveillance to monitor the pipelines which pass underground through the city carrying highly inflammable oil products.

Apart from deploying foot patrol teams, the companies have roped in the support of local residents who live near the pipe lines to strengthen the monitoring activities.

“Certain pipe lines are of 12 km long. We don’t reveal the actual route map as it is a matter of national security. Though there are no specific threats to the oil pipelines, we have spruced up surveillance considering the changing security scenario,” said official sources in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

The sources said that the patrolling teams walk all along the route on shift basis to check for any suspected activities. “We have implemented a system in which the security personnel of the oil companies frequently interact with the residents living adjacent to the pipelines. We will also train them to report suspected activities or incidents which they notice in the area,” the sources said.

The companies have also implemented state-of-the-art systems to monitor the pipe lines from a control room in the refineries. “We have cathodic protection systems and other devices to check the safety of the pipe lines. Any variation in the pressure will be immediately known at the control room,” the sources added.

Kochi City Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar said that though the oil companies have their own mechanism to monitor the pipelines, the city police also conduct routine surveillance on its own. “We also undertake round the clock monitoring of the areas through which the pipe lines pass,” the Commissioner said.

SOURCE: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-17/kochi/30168731_1_pipelines-oil-companies-surveillance