$520 million Marcellus Lateral pipeline project in doubt

A $520 million pipeline project thought to have the potential to support 2,500 Ohio construction jobs might be dead.

The Ohio Power Siting Board, the body that regulates major utility projects in Ohio, rejected the application for the Marcellus Lateral Pipeline more than a year ago. Kinder Morgan, a pipeline developer, owner and operator out of Houston, has made no official moves on the project since it submitted that application in November 2010.

The 16-inch pipeline was to snake 240 miles under Ohio, from the border with the West Virginia panhandle to a connection with larger pipeline just west of Toledo. It was designed to carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale formation, a layer of rock rich in oil and gas that sits underneath much of western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the border counties of Ohio.

Its path would have crossed 15 Ohio counties, including Muskingum, Coshocton, Knox, Morrow, Marion, Crawford and Sandusky.

This past spring, the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune and Mount Vernon News quoted a Kinder Morgan spokesman as saying the project still was a go and to expect construction by the end of 2011. The company would first need to get approval from the siting board, which it has not sought, a board spokesman said.

When asked to comment about the project’s status, Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Emily Mir wrote: “We continue to evaluate a number of projects in the Marcellus area but do not have any definite information at this time on the lateral project other than as part of our re-evaluation we are withdrawing our application for the project.”

She declined to answer further questions.

Dale Arnold, director of energy policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau, had been conducting educational meetings with bureau members on pipeline issues in advance of the Marcellus Lateral Project.

He said the wording of Kinder Morgan’s statement suggests it is moving on to something else. Arnold said he has seen alternative energy projects (also governed by the siting board) pulled in the same manner.

“From my experience on work with wind and solar projects, when a company withdraws an application, they are looking at something entirely different,” he said.

The state is “still considering the application active, but just delayed,” said Matt Butler, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which oversees the siting board.

As of Friday, Kinder Morgan had made no filing to withdraw its application, which would close the case.

The application was deemed incomplete in 2011 because it failed to include ecological data and enough detail on an alternative route.

Butler said the commission last heard from Kinder Morgan in the fall of 2011. The company relayed it was evaluating options at that point, he said.

Local leaders in the path of the pipeline are curious about Kinder Morgan’s plans.

Jenny Vermillion, a commissioner from Sandusky County, said her office had tried contacting the company in December, but had no success.

Jim Porter and Steve Douglass, commissioners in Muskingum and Guernsey counties, respectively, say they haven’t heard anything new about the project.

“They have not talked to us for a year of maybe longer,” Douglass said.

Douglass said Kinder Morgan had almost daily contact with Guernsey’s county engineer when the Rockies Express Pipeline, a multi-billion dollar interstate pipeline that was built in Ohio in 2009, was in construction.

The pipeline plan was announced by Kinder Morgan in April 2010. At that time, the timeline called for construction to begin in July 2011 and finish one year later.

In a year-end report to investors, filed a month after its application was submitted to the power siting board, Kinder Morgan talked of the need to “continue to pursue commercial agreements with shippers.”

The company, according to an October 2010 investor presentation, was seeking commitments from producers that they would use the lateral. Combined, Kinder Morgan was waiting for a promise of at least 25 million barrels per day for 10 years before it moved forward.

Richard Kinder, chairman and CEO of the company, told analysts during a conference call earlier this month about no fewer than five projects — costing more than half a billion dollars — slated to improve the company’s liquid products transportation. No mention was made of the Marcellus Lateral.

Its biggest investment this year is likely to be the expected closing of a $38 billion deal to buy rival El Paso. El Paso operates a gas pipeline near Glouster that was the source of an explosion that destroyed three homes and a barn and damaged a second barn in November.

SOURCE: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/BA/20120128/NEWS01/201280305/-520-million-natural-gas-pipeline-project-doubt?odyssey=nav%7Chead

How seawater could corrode nuclear fuel

Japan used seawater to cool nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant after the tsunami in March 2011 — and that was probably the best action to take at the time, says Professor Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis.

But Navrotsky and others have since discovered a new way in which seawater can corrode nuclear fuel, forming uranium compounds that could potentially travel long distances, either in solution or as very small particles. The research team published its work Jan. 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a phenomenon that has not been considered before,” said Alexandra Navrotsky, distinguished professor of ceramic, earth and environmental materials chemistry. “We don’t know how much this will increase the rate of corrosion, but it is something that will have to be considered in future.”

Japan used seawater to avoid a much more serious accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, and Navrotsky said, to her knowledge, there is no evidence of long-distance uranium contamination from the plant.

Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, Navrotsky said, unless the uranium is oxidized to uranium-VI — a process that can be facilitated when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent.

Peter Burns, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of the new paper, had previously made spherical uranium peroxide clusters, rather like carbon “buckyballs,” that can dissolve or exist as solids.

In the new paper, the researchers show that in the presence of alkali metal ions such as sodium — for example, in seawater — these clusters are stable enough to persist in solution or as small particles even when the oxidizing agent is removed.

In other words, these clusters could form on the surface of a fuel rod exposed to seawater and then be transported away, surviving in the environment for months or years before reverting to more common forms of uranium, without peroxide, and settling to the bottom of the ocean. There is no data yet on how fast these uranium peroxide clusters will break down in the environment, Navrotsky said.

SOURCE:  http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-seawater-corrode-nuclear-fuel.html

Contaminated Fuel Found at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport

Inspectors have uncovered risks in the aircraft refueling process at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The inspectors see a potential disaster in the quality of the fuel.

The Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation, where most Russian airliners are registered, has identified impurities that could lead to microbial corrosion in the fuel used at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Such a defect could trigger a spontaneous engine shutdown.

The inspectors believe that the cause of the corrosion is an old pipeline built in 1974. Aircraft fuel is distributed from a tank from that era. Since then, airport technicians have repeatedly inspected the fuel reservoir and performed the required scheduled maintenance but the inside of the pipe has accumulated a lot of dross over the decades, which affects the quality of the fuel. Therefore, the fuel that flows from the tank is usually dirtier than the fuel that flows in, said one expert.

Bermuda aviation authorities have sent a warning notification about the dangers of using this fuel to the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), which is to resolve the situation. Rosaviatsiya officials found five cases of spontaneous engine shutdown in aircraft based at airports in the region over the past few years. The last such incident occurred on November 15. Bermuda officials believe that all these incidents are connected with flights from Sheremetyevo airport since no such incident has been recorded with aircraft from Vnukovo or Domodedovo airports.

At Sheremetyevo airport, journalists were advised to contact representatives of the fuel suppliers. TNK-BP insisted that it strictly observes fuel standards, fully complies with all applicable regulations, and has received no complaints from any airline on fuel quality.

Two of MATCOR’s products nominated for Corrosion Innovation Awards

Late last week, MATCOR received notification from NACE International two of its products were selected as nominations for the inaugural MP Reader’s Choice Corrosion Innovation of the Year Awards.

The two MATCOR products nominated were “The Mitigator” and MATCOR’s “Kynex” connection.  Here is a brief summary:

Kynex By MATCOR
Kynex Connection by MATCOR

Kynex is a unique injection molding technology used to connect a MMO/Ti wire anode to a positive anode header cable, providing a more robust connection than conventional connection technology.

The prior connection technology consisted of manually applied polyolefin heat shrinks as the outer layer—depending on the connection design employed, additional layers of sealants might be applied prior to the use of the heat shrink. These multi-step connections are all manually applied with little process control.

Kynex uses Kynar pellets injected at elevated temperatures and pressures into a mold around the anode wire and cable to provide an automated connection using the industries’ most chemically inert materials to provide a better connection.

The Mitigator
The Mitigator by MATCOR

The Mitigator is the pipeline industry’s first and only engineered gradient control wire packaged solution for AC Mitigation. Gradient control wires are the most commonly used technology for mitigating high levels of induced AC on pipelines in shared right of ways with overhead AC transmission lines.

Historically, pipeline companies would use either zinc ribbon or bare copper as a grounding wire running parallel to the pipeline. To improve the performance of the grounding wire, it is common to use a backfill material. The Mitigator provides a factory-packaged product that combines the copper wire with a special backfill packaged in an inert fabric housing ready to install.

To become this year’s recipient of the  MP Reader’s Choice Corrosion Innovation of the Year Awards we need your vote.

Follow this link, and scroll down to the online form…select Kynex as #1 and Mitigator as your #2 selection – then hit the submit button.  We would really appreciate your support.

If you are a LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook user and would like to be an Ambassador for MATCOR, please share this posting to your social media network.

Voting ends February 15, 2012.

Issues about corrosion at Hanford Vitrification plant

Hanford vitrification plant testing has not shown that components that will be difficult to replace can last the required 40 years the plant is designed to operate, according to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

Whether vessels and piping for high-level radioactive waste in the plant will corrode is an issue raised by DOE scientist Donald Alexander in an unresolved Differing Professional Opinion in May. The defense board also has been evaluating wear issues for the past nine months.

The defense board sent a letter to DOE on Friday asking for a briefing within 45 days to provide confidence that the vitrification plant will operate safely and reliably for 40 years.

It noted that DOE, with contractor Bechtel National, is developing a course of action to address wear design issues.

“However, the current pace of the contractor’s efforts to close the issues does not support timely resolution,” said a defense board staff report that accompanied the letter.

Some of the vessels in question are scheduled to be installed at the vitrification plant in August and modification will become progressively more difficult and costly after the vessels are closed and installed, the report said.

The $12.2 billion vitrification plant is being built to turn radioactive waste left from past weapons production of plutonium at Hanford into a stable glass form for disposal.

Much of the piping and many of the vessels in the plant will be in areas called black cells that will be too highly radioactive for workers to enter once waste processing begins. Consequently, their design is required to be maintenance-free for 40 years.

“Component failure due to wear … could stop waste processing for indefinite periods, resulting in significant extensions in the time required to accomplish the facility mission,” the defense board letter said. “The existing design margins offer little or no flexibility for future operations or the opportunity to extend the life of the plant, if required.”

Experimental testing to validate the wear model was limited and the results were flawed, said the defense board letter.

The design wear rates were derived mainly from information found in literature, including from experimental studies performed using slurries and conditions not representative of vitrification plant processes, the letter said. Assumptions to apply information to the vitrification plant were not adequately validated, the letter said.

Project officials have said that the wear models are conservative but have not substantiated that with an analysis, the letter said. The defense board said it found wear allowances provided in the design of some vessels and the pulse jet mixers are not conservative.

The pulse jet mixers are designed to operate like turkey basters, sucking up a slurry of waste and shooting it back out, to keep waste mixed in vessels without relying on moving parts that would require maintenance.

Experimental testing that was done on mixing vessel erosion collected data that lacked a discernible trend and displayed physically unrealistic results, the letter said.

“The Department of Energy remains fully committed to safety at this important facility, including the safety of our workers and the public,” said DOE spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler.

Information from the defense board will be used as DOE further develops and implements action to address erosion and corrosion of piping, vessels and pulse jet mixers, she said.

SOURCE: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/01/24/2363660/board-raises-issue-about-corrosion.html

PG&E chairman announces company will spend millions on improvements

Utility to spend nearly $400 million on gas and electrical infrastructure in an effort to repair its tarnished reputation.

Acknowledging that the company’s reputation is “in tatters,” PG&E’s new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Earley announced Thursday the utility will spend $400 million over the next two years to improve its electrical and natural gas infrastructure.

Earley, who took charge of PG&E in August, spent an hour with the Editorial Board of The Tribune outlining the changes he plans to make to restore customer trust in the utility in the aftermath of the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno and questions about the seismic safety of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

“We have to delight our customers,” he said. “Our reputation is in such tatters that we cannot afford to just satisfy our customers.”

Earley estimated it will take three to five years to restore trust in the utility “one customer, one constituency at a time.”

He also met with Diablo Canyon employees and urged them not to become complacent about safety.

Earley said the utility plans to hire a new chief nuclear officer who will focus solely on Diablo Canyon. Current chief nuclear officer John Conway also oversees electrical generation and splits his time between Diablo Canyon and company headquarters in San Francisco.

The new nuclear officer will be stationed at Diablo Canyon and will fill an intermediary position between Conway and plant manager Jim Becker. Earley did not say when the position would be filled, but said the utility is looking at candidates both inside and outside the company.

While management of the utility’s largest asset, Diablo Canyon, is ranked among the best in the nation, the company’s level of customer satisfaction, distribution system maintenance and speed of service are among the third and fourth quartiles of the industry, Earley said.

Chief among PG&E’s woes is the September 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people. Investigations have since revealed that the company’s pipeline record keeping was a shambles; the utility just recently admitted further gaps in its pipeline survey maps.

“As the San Bruno tragedy showed, if you don’t invest in infrastructure, you are going to have very serious problems,” he said. PG&E does not deliver natural gas in San Luis Obispo County; Southern California Gas Co. does.

Concerning Diablo Canyon, seismic safety and storage of highly radioactive used reactor fuel are two of the community’s biggest concerns. The utility is in the midst of performing $64 million in seismic studies to determine the earthquake potential of the faults surrounding the plant.

Earley said he supports the recommendations of a federal committee that has proposed the establishment of several temporary regional storage sites to take spent fuel from the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors. With abandonment of plans to build a federal repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, Diablo Canyon’s spent fuel will be stored onsite for the foreseeable future.

Citing the nuclear industry’s need to coordinate with federal regulators, Earley declined to make any promises that PG&E would lower the density of fuel assemblies stored in Diablo Canyon’s spent fuel pools by accelerating their transfer to dry casks. The pools are near their storage capacity, and PG&E has considered as a safety precaution reducing the density — possibly as low as 600 assemblies per pool — but not to their original, low-density configuration of 270 assemblies.

Earley also wouldn’t promise that the utility would meet a summer deadline to sign over property it owns in Wild Cherry Canyon behind Avila Beach to create a 65 percent addition to Montaña de Oro State Park.

“The concept is great,” he said, but added he has not had enough time to get up to speed on the project.

PG&E is the largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County with 1,500 employees. Approximately 1,400 of these work at Diablo Canyon. The utility has nearly 15 million customers in Northern and Central California.

SOURCE: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/01/19/1914608/pge-chairman-announces-improvements.html

Radiation, rust seen in tsunami-hit Japan reactor

The first look inside one of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear reactors showed radiation, steam and rusty metal surfaces scarred by 10 months’ exposure to high temperatures and humidity.

The steam-blurred photos taken by remote control Thursday found none of the reactor’s melted fuel but confirmed stable reactor temperature and showed no major damage or ruptures caused by the earthquake last March, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

TEPCO workers inserted the endoscope — an industrial version of the kind of endoscope doctors use —through a hole in the beaker-shaped containment vessel at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant’s No. 2 reactor, hoping the first look inside since the crisis would help them better assess reactor conditions and make repairs.

Results of the 70-minute operation were mixed.

Some parts that were photographed were not identifable, and experts are still trying to identify what the photos show, Matsumoto said. Radiation was apparent as it interferred with the electronic device and was visible as static on the images.

The photos also showed inner wall of the container heavily deteriorated after 10 months of exposure to high temperature and humidity, he said.

‘Given the harsh environment that we had to operate, we did quite well. It’s a first step,’ Matsumoto said. ‘But we could not spot any signs of fuel, unfortunately.’

He said it would take more time and a better technology to get to the melted fuel, most of which has fallen straight down into the area that the endoscope could not reach. TEPCO hopes to use the endoscope to look inside the two other reactors that had meltdowns but that also would require customization of the equipment and further reduction of radiation levels.

Better assessment will help workers know how best to plug holes and cracks in the containment vessel — a protective chamber outside the core — to contain radiation leaks and gradually work toward dismantling the reactors.

Three of six reactors at the Fukushima plant melted down after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant’s cooling systems and set off the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

TEPCO and nuclear officials have said that melted fuel probably fell to the bottom of the core in each unit, most likely breaching the bottom of the core and falling into the primary containment vessel, some dropping to its concrete floor.

Experts have said those are simulation results and that exact location and condition of the fuel could not be known until they have a first-hand observation inside.

The probe Thursday successfully recorded the temperature inside the containment vessel at 44.7 Celsius (112 F), confirming it stayed below the boiling point and qualifying a ‘cold shutdown state,’ the stable condition that the government had declared in December despite skepticism from experts.

The probe failed to find the water surface, which indicate the water sits at lower-than-expected levels inside the primary containment vessel and questions the accuracy of the current water monitors, Matsumoto said.

The government has said that it would take 40 years until the Fukushima plant is fully decommissioned.

SOURCE: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2012/January/international_January715.xml&section=international&col=

Ipswich port worker’s tyre burst death ’caused by corrosion’

Corrosion of a fork-lift truck wheel was a “likely scenario” when a tyre exploded fatally injuring a worker at a Suffolk port, an inquest heard.

Gary Deaves, 48, an Associated British Ports (ABP) mechanic at Ipswich Docks died from head injuries after the tyre he was removing exploded in 2010.

Mr Deaves, of Ipswich, was injured as he removed the wheel from a 1979 Hyster Challenger truck for maintenance.

The accident happened on 30 March 2010 at the ABP workshop on Cliff Quay.

An ABP safety officer said it was the first case of this sort the company had heard of.

Brain injuries
The inquest heard the tyre exploded, propelling the wheel off the axle of the vehicle, which was raised off the ground.

Mr Deaves was treated for head and brain injuries at Ipswich Hospital and later at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, but died on 9 May 2010.

Health and Safety Executive inspector David Gregory told Ipswich Coroner’s Court that although there were “always alternatives” the “likely scenario” which he believed was “that the flange ring [of the wheel] became detached because of age and corrosion.”

He said the explosion would not have happened if the tyres had been deflated, but that it was not standard practice to do this before they were removed.

Andrew Bowley, ABP’s safety manager, told the court it was now standard procedure to deflate all tyres before removing wheels from axles.

Mr Bowley’s written statement was read out by the coroner: “In my 37 years, I’ve never known rims come off like this.”

The court also heard from Mark Betts, who was working on the truck with Mr Deaves, who said he “saw no problem with the wheels” before they started removing them.

They had already taken two of the truck’s wheels before the accident happened.

The inquest continues.

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-16586243

Report about cause of 2010 Mich. oil spill delayed

The release of a federal report detailing the cause of a 2010 pipeline rupture that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil in southern Michigan has been delayed.

The report is expected to be released this fall, about six months later than expected, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/zkCAau). The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the delay to other investigations into separate pipeline incidents.

“Our investigations look at numerous aspects that could have played a role in the accident, such as maintenance, human factors, pipeline operations, and materials,” said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.

“We’ll also look at the emergency response and environmental remediation efforts to assess how they were handled.”

The report about the July 2010 spill from Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline also is expected to offer future safety recommendations for the pipeline industry.

Enbridge said it will be able to finish its internal investigation after the report is released. Company spokesman Jason Manshum said the company is working to take what it’s learned from the spill and share that knowledge.

“We’re focused on applying these lessons in our operations in all locations where we operate,” Manshum said.

Cleanup efforts continue this year. The rupture was to a 30-inch pipeline carrying oil from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. The oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek near Marshall, about 60 east of Grand Rapids.

Preliminary testing of the ruptured pipe found surface cracks and indications of corrosion. The Enbridge pipeline was installed in the 1960s and is part of a system that was eyed by federal officials prior to the leak.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has said that it warned Enbridge about potential problems including possible safety code violations related to monitoring pipeline corrosion.

SOURCE: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_162-57359683/report-about-cause-of-2010-mich-oil-spill-delayed/

Industry Challenges Texas Pipeline Ruling

Pipeline companies are asking the Texas Supreme Court to overturn a ruling they say jeopardizes new projects, escalating the battle over the costs of transporting oil and natural gas produced by the energy boom in South Texas.

The industry says its costs are soaring as landowners, bolstered by a recent appellate-court opinion, seek much higher payments for damage to their property values from pipelines and reject what they see as lowball offers from companies. Under Texas law, companies can build pipelines across private property over landowners’ objections, but must pay for use of the land and any damage to the value of the rest of the property.

The dispute in the South Texas case could have ramifications in other states where pipelines are proliferating along with new oil and gas fields, some legal experts say, as lawyers and appraisers build on arguments that have gained traction in court.

A year ago, an appellate court in San Antonio upheld a jury verdict against LaSalle Pipeline LP that awarded $600,000 to the Donnell family of McMullen County, Texas. The award was mostly for the loss of value to an 8,000-acre ranch after LaSalle built a natural-gas pipeline that stretched for four miles across the property.

LaSalle has appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which has asked for briefs but not yet agreed to hear the case. Another pipeline company filed an amicus brief last month.

In the case, an appraiser hired by the family calculated the loss in value by studying sales of similar properties nearby, and found that those with pipelines sold for 20% less on average than those without pipelines.

A lawyer representing the family declined to comment on the case.

LaSalle didn’t dispute that it should pay for the rights to the 17 affected acres, but it said the pipeline didn’t diminish the value of the overall property at all. The Houston-based company argued that the landowner’s appraiser failed to consider factors besides a pipeline that could affect what people would pay for it, including location, shape and access to water.

LaSalle also maintained the landowner’s appraiser didn’t submit figures to the jury that would support his calculations.

Tom Zabel, a Houston lawyer representing LaSalle and other pipeline companies, said that costs to obtain rights of way have increased fivefold or sixfold in South Texas since the verdict in the Donnell trial.

In the Southwest alone, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America estimates the region will need 50,100 miles of gathering pipelines, which take gas from wells to processing plants, between 2011 and 2020, 31% of the total nationally.

Energy Transfer Partners LP, a major pipeline operator that filed the amicus brief with the court in support of LaSalle, said that landowners, armed just with the appellate opinion, have argued in more than 20 condemnation hearings that pipelines would reduce their property values by at least 20%. Under state law, local panels hold hearings when pipeline companies sue landowners to obtain rights to build on their property.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer argued that if allowed to stand, the rationale affirmed in the appellate opinion would leave companies unable to “predict the costs associated with their projects and the viability of pipelines.”

Barry Diskin, a professor at Florida State University who has done work for pipeline companies, said he has never seen a study that found a systematic pattern in property values tied to pipelines. “I’ve not seen one, and I’ve looked,” he said.

But just the possibility of a major explosion is enough, in the real world, to depress property values near pipelines, said Marcus Schwartz, a lawyer in Halletsville, Texas, who represents landowners.

SOURCE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203436904577153001395050804.html