Tag Archives: Washington DC

Corrosion Costs U.S. DOD $20.9 Billion Annually

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that corrosion costs the Department about $20.9 billion annually.

Corrosion can negatively affect all military assets, including both equipment and infrastructure, and is defined as the deterioration of a material or its properties due to a reaction of that material with its environment. Corrosion also affects military readiness by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards.

Section 2228 of Title 10 of the United States Code requires DOD, as part of its annual budget submission, to submit a report to Congress on corrosion funding. In the report, DOD is to include (1) funding requirements for its long-term corrosion reduction strategy, (2) the return-oninvestment (ROI) that would be achieved by implementing the strategy, (3) the current and previous fiscal year funds requested in the budget compared to funding requirements, (4) an explanation if funding requirements are not fully funded in the budget, (5) the amount of funds requested for both the current and previous fiscal years in the budget for each project or activity described in DOD’s long-term strategy compared to the funding requirements for the project or activity, and (6) a copy of the annual corrosion report most recently submitted by the corrosion control and prevention executive of each military department as an annex to its report. The military departments’ reports are to include recommendations pertaining to the department’s corrosion control and prevention program and related funding levels to carry out all of the duties of the corrosion control and prevention executive. Corrosion also affects military readiness by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards.

Section 2228 also requires us to analyze DOD’s budget submission and report and provide an assessment to the congressional defense committees within 60 days after the submission of the budget for the fiscal year, which this year occurred on February 13, 2012. DOD submitted its annual report to Congress on May 21, 2012, and we received the report on May 23, 2012. Our objectives were to (1) determine the extent to which DOD’s corrosion report included the mandated elements, (2) assess the extent to which DOD’s Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) funding request met total estimated CPC funding requirements for activities and preliminary project proposals as identified in the fiscal year 2013 corrosion report, and (3) calculate the potential cost avoidance that DOD may achieve by funding CPC at the level requested in its fiscal year 2013 corrosion budget materials report and the cost avoidance DOD may miss by not fully funding its requirements. Enclosure I provides briefing slides for congressional committees detailing the results of our analysis of DOD’s CPC budget request and the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight’s (CPO) accompanying report for fiscal year 2013.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (GAO) RECOMMENDS

To ensure that Congress has the accurate and comprehensive information it needs to exercise its oversight responsibilities, we recommend for fiscal year 2013 and beyond that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to take the following three actions:

  • Provide in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress a more detailed explanation of the development of DOD’s funding requirements.
  • Include in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress the funds requested in DOD’s budget compared to the funding requirements for the fiscal year covered by the report and the preceding fiscal year.
  • Provide in the annual corrosion budget report to Congress an explanation of DOD’s ROI methodology and analysis, including both projected and, to the extent available, validated ROIs.

WHAT GAO FOUND

In summary, we found that DOD’s fiscal year 2013 corrosion budget report to Congress (1) included some, but not all of the six mandated elements; (2) included a funding request that equals DOD’s fiscal year 2013 stated requirements for corrosion activities and projects; and (3) lacked information needed to calculate the potential cost avoidance. First, DOD included three of the six mandated elements, did not include two of the elements, and one of the elements was not applicable this year. For example, DOD included the most recent annual corrosion reports of the military departments, attached in an annex. However, it did not include the funds requested in the budget compared to the funding requirements for the fiscal year covered by the report or the previous fiscal year. Second, DOD officials stated that the fiscal year 2013 budget request and the fiscal year 2013 funding requirements for activities and projects are the same this year–$9.1 million. According to these officials, DOD does not have any fiscal year 2013 unfunded requirements for corrosion activities and projects. Third, we did not calculate the cost avoidance DOD could achieve with its fiscal year 2013 budget request, because the analysis that DOD provided does not support the 14 to1 average ROI for projects cited in its report. Further, we did not calculate the cost avoidance that DOD might be missing by not funding its requirements, because DOD officials said that they do not have any unfunded requirements this year. Without all of the required information on DOD’s corrosion prevention and control activities and projects, DOD senior leaders and Congress may face challenges in assessing the levels of funding needed to effectively prevent and control corrosion.

SOURCE: http://www.defpro.com/news/details/39088/?SID=e7a9277292ecf9faaf31c408e22cc43a

Capitol Dome Is Imperiled by 1,300 Cracks

The Capitol dome, the nation’s grandest symbol of federal authority, has been dinged by years of inclement weather, and its exterior is in need of repair.

The dome has 1,300 known cracks and breaks. Water that has seeped in over the years has caused rusting on the ornamentation and staining on the interior of the Rotunda, just feet below the fresco “The Apotheosis of Washington,” which is painted on the Rotunda’s canopy.

“The dome needs comprehensive rehabilitation,” said Stephen T. Ayers, the architect of the Capitol, whose office oversees the building’s physical state. “It’s a public safety issue.”

The skirt of the dome — the section around the base of the original sandstone foundation — was fixed up recently at a cost of about $20 million, but an additional $61 million is needed to repair and restore the rest of the structure’s exterior.

The Capitol’s first dome, made of copper-covered wood, was completed in 1824 but by the 1850s was deemed too small. It was also seen as a fire hazard in a place where oil lamps, British attacks and other events had caused blazes. A cast-iron replacement was envisioned, and lawmakers, thrilled with the idea, appropriated $100,000 to begin construction, with the acquiescence of President Franklin Pierce.

Construction on the cast-iron dome began in 1856 and progressed through various architects, disputes over the design and the Civil War, when the project was continued in part by workers who were afraid that the military would take the metals and repurpose them for war use, said Donald A. Ritchie, the Senate historian.

The Statue of Freedom, which sits triumphantly atop the nine million pounds of ironwork that makes up the dome, was completed in December 1863, topping the project. The interior was finished in 1866, its famous fresco revealed. Total cost: $1,047,291, or more than $15 million in today’s dollars.

The dome was completely restored in 1960 during the construction of the Capitol’s East Front extension. Weather remains its biggest enemy: precipitation pelts the exterior, and the statue endures the occasional strike of lightning. At least 100 pieces of the dome have fallen off or been removed, including a 40-pound cast-iron decorative acorn.

Viewed from a (sort of scary) balcony between the fresco above and a frieze depicting American history that lines the Rotunda’s interior, tourists with iPhones and fanny packs can be seen lingering in awe hundreds of feet below, unaware of the water damage and chipping paint above.

“When you have those conditions on the outside,” said Mr. Ayers, the Capitol’s architect, “it really accelerates deterioration on the inside,” including possible damage to the fresco, which is painted on plaster.

In other words, just as it is best to fix a bathroom leak before it causes damage to the rest of the house, the dome repairs could prove much more expensive over time.

The project will involve taking apart many pieces of the dome, one at a time, and then putting them back together once repaired, much like a puzzle, Mr. Ayers said.

In many ways, the process reflects the history of the Capitol and the nation, said Mr. Ritchie, the historian. “The Capitol building is an interesting conglomeration,” he said. “It is a whole series of buildings put together at different times, and in that way it is a nice reflection of American democracy, which was put together piecemeal from a lot of different materials. It reflects one motto of our nation, ‘E pluribus unum,’ Latin for ‘Out of many, one.’ ”

“The Capitol is a wonderful story of the history of our nation,” Mr. Ritchie said. “And as a result it is preserved very carefully to maintain the story, not to mention to keep it from leaking into the Rotunda.”

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/us/politics/capitol-dome-is-imperiled-by-cracks-and-a-partisan-divide.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&adxnnl=1&emc=edit_th_20120825&adxnnlx=1345896049-oFy+LTfuCq7WCqro3b9uvA

PHMSA Proposes New Rule to Increase Enforcement of Pipeline Excavation Programs

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has proposed new procedures geared to strengthen excavation damage prevention programs and increase penalties for violators.

Excavation damage continues to be a leading cause of all U.S. pipeline failures and is the single greatest threat to the safety, reliability, and integrity of the natural gas distribution system. Excavation activities accounted for more than 25 percent of fatalities resulting from pipeline failures in the U.S. between 2002 and 2011.

“Safety is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It is important for states to have strong and effective enforcement programs as we work together to crack down on violators of these important laws.”

The proposed rule will encourage states to strengthen their excavation damage prevention enforcement programs, provide more protection for underground pipelines, and allow for federal enforcement against violators in cases where state enforcement may not occur. Specifically, it would revise and strengthen the federal Pipeline Safety Regulations by establishing:

  • Criteria and an administrative process to determine the adequacy of a state’s excavation damage prevention law enforcement program;
  • Federal requirements that PHMSA will enforce against excavators in states determined to have inadequate damage prevention enforcement programs; and
  • An enforcement process to impose federal fines and penalties for violations.

These new procedures would also address a congressional directive requiring PHMSA to establish procedures to evaluate state damage prevention enforcement programs. By law, PHMSA must establish these criteria prior to any attempt to conduct federal enforcement proceedings in a state where an excavator damages a pipeline.

“Those who violate damage prevention laws must be held accountable,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “We will continue to work to strengthen damage prevention laws, partner with states to strengthen their enforcement programs, and impose stiffer fines and penalties for these types of pipeline failures.”

For more details about the proposed rule, including comments received from the agency’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, visit PHMSA’a website at www.phmsa.dot.gov.

SOURCE: http://ohsonline.com/articles/2012/04/10/phmsa-proposes-new-rule-to-increase-enforcement-of-pipeline-excavation-programs.aspx?admgarea=news

Gas explosion investigation renders few answers, but corroded pipeline became evident

On Dec. 19, 2010, the home that Thuan Nguyen shared with his family in Chantilly, VA exploded. More than a year later, regulators still have not been able to pinpoint an exact cause for the disaster.

In a November 2011 report, the Virginia State Corporation Commission released disturbing new details about the gas explosion, citing Washington Gas for 11 probable violations. However, they also say they’re unable to determine the exact cause of the decision because the utility did not take required measurements.

In the report, the SCC says that “the gas service line to the home experienced severe corrosion.” The line, installed in 1966, had never been upgraded, and photos in the report show holes and severe corrosion in the lines.

The report also says that the corrosion resulted in a major leak across the street from the home on Lees Corner Drive, but they only concluded that the leak might have caused the explosion. Since Washington Gas didn’t record required leak detection measurements, though, the commission can’t be sure.

The SCC report also says that a customer-owned fuel line that may not have been capped properly could have also caused the explosion. The line in question once led to a gas stove on the second story of the house, but previous owners had put it behind a wall during renovations.

Washington Gas declined to comment because the utility is being sued by the Nguyen’s insurance company. Nguyen, in the meantime, has not been contacted by the company.

“I hear no word from Washington Gas,” he said.

Regardless of cause or blame, residents of the Chantilly neighborhood say they live in fear and believe it could happen again, while all the while, Washington Gas tells them that its investigation into the explosion continues 14 months later.

“Three-quarters of this development is all gas,” Leeds says. “It doesn’t take that long to investigate anything.”

SOURCE: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/02/chantilly-house-gas-explosion-investigation-renders-few-answers-72157.html

US Senate approves pipeline safety bill

The Senate unanimously approved a pipeline safety bill that stemmed from a spate of incidents, including last year’s deadly explosion in San Bruno, California.

The measure had been held up by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who lifted his hold after reaching agreement with Democrats to add a key recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Usually wary of regulatory oversight, Paul said he wanted to strengthen the legislation. His initial objection was that the bill was written before the NTSB completed its report on the San Bruno explosion, Paul said in a statement. “While I am in favor of as little regulation as necessary, if we are going to impose regulations, we should do it right,” he said.

But it does not include an NTSB recommendation to require automatic and remote-controlled shut-off valves on existing pipelines in heavily populated areas, a response to the nearly 95 minutes it took utility workers to manually shut off gas spewing from the San Bruno site. That requirement has faced industry opposition.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed state legislation to require automatic shut-off valves in vulnerable areas and ensure that gas companies pressure-test transmission lines in California.

“This is a huge step forward for the safety of pipelines and communities across the nation,” said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the measure’s chief sponsor. “This bill strengthens oversight and addresses long-standing safety issues that leave the public vulnerable to catastrophic pipeline accidents.”

The amended bill requires that older, untested pipes operating at high pressure — such as the one that exploded under San Bruno — be strength-tested to establish safe maximum operating pressures, Sen.Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said after the vote.

“Simply put, Californians shouldn’t have to worry about streets exploding under their feet because of lax safety regulations,” Feinstein said in a statement.

A similar measure awaits action in the House.

SOURCE: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-senate-pipeline-bill-20111018,0,1199195.story

Regulators weigh more rules for natural gas pipelines

(Reuters) – U.S. regulators sought public input on Wednesday about the need for increased oversight of the country’s natural gas pipelines, as part of a push to strengthen safety after several deadly accidents.

The U.S. Transportation Department asked for comments about whether certain regulatory exemptions for pipelines built before 1970 should be eliminated and whether rules regarding pipeline integrity should be expanded.

“Incidents with significant consequences continue to occur on gas transmission pipelines, and this action will help us determine whether new requirements are needed to increase safety,” Cynthia Quarterman, head of the department’s pipeline oversight agency, said in a statement.

A 2.5-million-mile (4-million-km) network of pipelines crisscrosses the United States, carrying everything from crude oil to natural gas to refined products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

The department launched an oil and gas pipeline safety initiative in April after a series of high-profile accidents in the country’s aging web of pipelines.

An explosion on a natural gas pipeline operated by UGI Utilities killed five people this past February in Allentown, Pennsylvania, while a blast on a PG&E Corp line in California last year killed eight people.

Many pipelines date to the 1960s or earlier and old lines are rarely retired. The overall length of active U.S. pipelines has grown more than 20-fold since the 1920s.

As part of its safety push, the department is also asking for feedback about the need to reduce operating pressure for some pipelines that are more than 40 years old.

Pipeline safety has actually improved sharply over the past 20 years. But from 2006 through 2009 U.S. oil and gas pipeline accidents killed 56 people, caused $1.2 billion in property damage and spilled 381,000 barrels of oil, government data shows.

Recent oil spills from TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, as well as Exxon Mobil’s Silvertip line, have also raised concerns about the environmental risks posed by crude oil pipelines.

Earlier this year, the Senate commerce committee approved legislation that would raise fines against reckless operators of petroleum and natural gas lines and require automatic shut-off valves to prevent oil spills and gas explosions.

SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/25/us-pipelines-usa-natgas-regulations-idUSTRE77N6MZ20110825

Oil industry, under pressure, vows pipeline safety boost

U.S. and Canadian not-for-profit groups said on Tuesday that they’re conducting a “comprehensive” joint study to improve pipeline safety.

The effort follows several notable accidents over the last two years, and comes as oil companies are pressing the Obama administration to approve a major pipeline linking Canadian oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

In a statement, six industry not-for-profit groups said the study will “explore safety models and procedures currently utilized by other industry sectors in an effort to deliver natural gas and pipeline-transported liquids more safely and reliably.”

“The collaborative group is committed to promoting positive safety cultures throughout the industry and hopes that by learning from others, the energy pipeline industry can identify and implement a model that will measurably improve pipeline system safety,” the trade groups said jointly.

The groups are:

Pipeline safety is drawing increased scrutiny following the ExxonMobil pipeline break this summer that released an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil into Montana’s Yellowstone River.

An Enbridge pipeline spilled roughly 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River last summer, and a September gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., killed eight people.

A TransCanada oil pipeline has suffered leaks in Kansas and North Dakota this year. The company is seeking State Department approval to build a separate, 1,700-mile pipeline — called Keystone XL —  from Alberta, Canada’s oil sands projects to Texas.

Industry groups and many GOP lawmakers are backing the project, but environmentalists are lobbying the Obama administration against it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that Keystone XL, if approved, would operate under tougher safety standards than the law requires.

SOURCE: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/176105-oil-industry-under-pressure-vows-pipeline-safety-boost-