Tag Archives: Safety

Marcellus Shale Production Data Hints at Growing Cathodic Protection Needs

Production from the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves is expected to exceed 13 billion cubic feet per day this December, nearly seven times the 2 billion cubic feet per day it produced during the same period in 2010, according to a recent report.

The report on Marcellus Shale production data, by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said the figure would equal about 18 percent of total U.S. natural gas production during the month.

One of the Marcellus Shale companies that’s taking advantage of the natural gas boom is Cabot Oil & Gas Co., based in Houston, which claimed 15 of the 20 highest-producing natural-gas wells in the area during the first half of the year.

According to Dan O. Dinges, Cabot’s chief executive officer, 10 wells from a single well pad in Auburn Township produced enough natural gas in 30 days to meet the average monthly demand of the entire city of Philadelphia.

Cabot plans to increase its Marcellus Shale drill rigs from six to seven in 2013, with each rig capable of drilling 20 wells during the course of the year.

The sharp rise in natural gas reserves production hints at the growing need for Marcellus Shale companies to incorporate pipeline corrosion control equipment like cathodic protection rectifiers into their gas delivery infrastructure, according to Chris Sheldon, who works as utilities practice lead for MATCOR, a Pennsylvania-based cathodic protection company.

“Marcellus Shale companies are experiencing a tremendous upswing in natural gas production and are building new drill rigs and digging new wells to take advantage of the vast natural resource at their feet,” Sheldon said. “That means a lot of new pipes are going to be laid. And more pipes means more opportunities for corrosion.”

“At MATCOR, we’re here to help Marcellus Shale companies, as well as other pipeline companies and natural gas producers, with a full line of advanced cathodic protection equipment, systems and services designed to help them meet their corrosion control needs.”

Further Reading

A Marcellus Natural-Gas Bonanza,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 10, 2013.

2 of New Jersey’s elected officials call for gas pipeline guidelines to better protect urban areas

Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and Rep. Albio Sires (D-13th) are calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to better protect highly-populated urban areas from the explosive threat of natural gas pipelines.

Arguing that PHMSA fails to safeguard densely-packed large urban populations, the officials are specifically demanding that PHMSA adopt new rules regarding the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines.

“As they presently stand, PHMSA pipeline safety regulations fall woefully short of protecting dense urban areas,” said Mayor Healy. “The agency imposes its strictest safety standards on pipelines in cities that have as few as two four-story buildings. In Jersey City, we are home to the state’s five tallest buildings and have hundreds of residential and commercial buildings well above four stories in a small geographic area which is not even contemplated by this regulatory agency.”

Under PHMSA regulations, Healy said, cities as different as Jersey City and Huntsville, Alabama, receive the same consideration for pipeline construction, even though Jersey City’s population is about 20 times larger than Huntsville.

Healy’s plea to PHMSA comes as another federal agency is considering whether to green-light a proposed natural gas pipeline that Texas-based Spectra Energy hopes to build. If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the proposed pipeline would include 19.8 miles of new and replacement pipes, six new stations, and other related modifications in Linden, Jersey City, and Bayonne. In Jersey City, the underground pipeline route would run through nearly every municipal ward and near such sensitive areas as Jersey City Medical Center, several schools, the Holland Tunnel, the New Jersey Turnpike, and transportation infrastructure near the Jersey City-Hoboken border. Because of the pipeline’s close proximity to sensitive areas, local activists and city officials have argued that a natural gas explosion could cause mass casualties and significantly damage important transportation infrastructure.

To ensure that PHMSA’s regulations better reflect and protect urban areas the city, with the backing of Rep. Sires, has filed a petition asking PHMSA to change its pipeline safety regulations.

The city’s proposed regulatory changes include the addition of new classifications to PHMSA’s rules that reflect cities with mid-rises, high-rises and skyscrapers, and the significant increases in population density that correlate with those structures, and the development of more stringent safety standards to protect large cities.

In response to the city’s request to PHMSA, Spectra spokeswoman Marylee Hanley told the Reporter, “Spectra Energy is committed to building one of the safest natural gas pipelines in North America to help meet New Jersey and New York’s energy demands. The New York-New Jersey Expansion Project meets and often exceeds the highest federal safety requirements. For example, in several places in Jersey City we are exceeding Class 4 code – using HDD’s in the most densely populated areas to bury the pipe up to 180 feet deep, using thicker wall pipe and have added an extra mainline valve.”

But William Schulte, an attorney at Eastern Environmental Law Center who represents Jersey City’s No Gas Pipeline, said, “We often see companies claim that they are being safe and responsible because they are meeting regulatory requirements. But the fact is sometimes we see that the requirements themselves do not adequately protect public safety and welfare.

We commend Jersey City in its efforts to achieve more stringent safety standards for pipelines in ultra-dense urban areas such as Jersey City.”

SOURCE:Hudson Reporter – Healy Sires call for gas pipeline guidelines to better protect urban areas

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

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

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

Montpelier pedestrian bridge closed over safety concerns

Josleyn Willscheck and Anthony Iarrapino hit a dead end on their afternoon walk through downtown Montpelier, VT.

“It’s not the end of the world, but it’s just not the perfect walk during the work day,” Willscheck said.

The city closed the pedestrian bridge that connects Route 2 with State Street over the Winooski River, saying it is no longer safe for people to walk on.

“I wouldn’t say the bridge would collapse, but portions possibly,” said Todd Law, the director of Montpelier Public Works.

The bridge is so corroded underneath that holes are popping through. The bridge was built in 1998 at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. It was expected to last 30 to 40 years. Now, it needs a major makeover.

“The bridge is made of a weathering steel, so it’s supposed to form a rust barrier around the members that protect it from further corrosion. It didn’t seem to protect it.” Law said.

Now the city is trying to find out why the bridge did not hold up.

“One is salt use. The salt adhered to the members and corroded them. Second, we just heard– it’s a fairly new concept to our heads– that there is leaching from the pressure-treated lumber,” Law said.

Law says the city hopes to know in a week or two what it will take to make the bridge usable again. But it’s not expected to be cheap. The tab could exceed $100,000. The city noticed the corrosion several years ago and has set aside $97,000. But officials just realized the severity of the problem.

“I would like to get it done as soon as possible, if that means winter construction,” Law said.

“It’s nice to have a way across that is dedicated solely to bike and foot traffic and not motor vehicles,” Iarrapino said.

The city says the contractor is not at fault.

The foot bridge is part of the city’s bike path.

SOURCE: http://www.wcax.com/story/16465763/montpelier-pedestrian-bridge-closed-over-safety-concerns

Call for funds to fix Melbourne’s Loop problems

MELBOURNE’S City Loop has ”heavy” concrete corrosion, water ”leaching all over the place” and emergency systems that should be improved, inspections by Victoria’s independent transport safety watchdog have revealed.

Alan Osborne, the man in charge of safety on Victoria’s rail system, has called on the Baillieu government to commit significant funds to fix the problems of the city’s underground tunnels.

Mr Osborne, the director of transport safety at Transport Safety Victoria, ordered the inspections after The Age revealed in September that the loop’s serious structural problems had been ignored by successive state governments.

Mr Osborne told The Age that there was no immediate risk to passenger safety, but it was important the issues were dealt with to avoid deterioration and possible derailments. ”There’s a lot of inspections … but there comes a point where you need to bite the bullet and do some major pieces of work,” he said.

The position and width of the walkway means that, in the event of a train fire in the loop, passengers in wheelchairs would have to wait, Mr Osborne concluded. He said inspections by Transport Safety Victoria had confirmed:

  • The fasteners holding the rails to the tunnel floor were ”quite heavily corroded” in some places. The extra water ”leaching all over the place” and problems with the concrete had created ”a more corrosive environment than was expected”.
  • Drawings of the fire-protected areas of underground stations have been lost.
  • A number of systems at the underground stations, such as testing of emergency warnings, could be improved.

Under freedom of information laws The Age requested further reports on the state of the loop from its state-owned insurer, the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority. But the authority declined the request, saying the release of information about safety procedures, access points and general emergency responses was a security risk.

Mr Osborne said he would like to see a plan put forward for the long-term renewal of the tunnel, which carries more than 150,000 Melburnian commuters each week day. This would include updating the loop’s control systems, the ventilation system, improving waterproofing and drainage and replacing the concrete rail sleepers.

This is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, but some of the work is already afoot. A $2.5 million project is attempting to seal water leaks, 6000 sleepers will be repaired by March 2013, and the Department of Transport is con- ducting further tests on the ventilation system after a CSIRO report found smoke extraction fans were performing to a capacity of only 25 per cent.

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said two independent engineering assessments on the loop had concluded safety standards had been met. ”It is important to note that extensive tests carried out by Metro have not found any serious safety issues.”

The company conducts daily inspections, weekly walk-throughs by a shift gang, monthly bolt inspections and six-monthly rail flaw inspections, Ms Mitchell said.

The department said the structural integrity of the loop remained ”fit for purpose”.

Mr Mulder said he continued to receive advice about the loop issues from the department, but any major works to the emergency walkway were impractical. ”Because of the presence of utilities [tunnel services] and the tunnel’s shape, altering the walkways to be elevated would narrow their width and reduce passenger headroom,” he said.


SOURCE: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/call-for-funds-to-fix-loops-problems-20111219-1p2kd.html#ixzz1h5CVpJfN

Playground equipment removed after safety failure

A playground in County Durham (UK) has been reduced to just one toy after its other rides and equipment were removed for failing a health and safety inspection.

For years Allergate play area in Durham City had swings, a see-saw and slides, but they have now been taken away, leaving just a spring-mounted toy bike.

The council said there were no immediate plans to replace the equipment which was “corroded”.

But local mother Ruth Pierce said there was nothing wrong with the toys.

Ms Pierce, who has a two-year-old son Joe, said: “We only walk through the park now – there is nothing to come here for.

“I’m all for things being safe but there is a limit – there was nothing wrong with the equipment, except perhaps the roundabout which was a bit dodgy, but the rest of it was all fine.”

Steve Howell, head of sport and leisure at Durham County Council, said the authority had spent more than £1m on improving its playgrounds in the past year.

He said: “All the council’s play areas are regularly inspected by trained staff to ensure they do not pose a risk to the children coming to enjoy them.

“In this case the inspection showed significant corrosion on all equipment which could not be safely repaired.

“While play areas are covered by range of background legislation including health and safety regulations, the most important thing is for staff to use their training and common sense.

“If a piece of equipment represents a potential hazard the safest thing to do is take immediate and appropriate action.”

He said that this was the first time the council had removed play equipment without “prior notice”.

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-16077237

Port Explosion Report Reveals Tank Corrosion “Easily” Detectable

An investigation into the cause of a Gibraltar port explosion last May has uncovered a litany of alleged physical faults and management shortfalls at the sullage plant operated by Nature Port Reception Facilities [Nature], including claims that storage tanks were heavily corroded and badly maintained.

Investigators from specialist company Capita Symonds attributed the explosion to holes in the roof of tanks used to store petroleum products, which allowed highly flammable vapor to escape.

The tank rooftops were dotted with 60 perforations caused by long term corrosion, the investigation found.

Two men welding on top of one of the tanks caused the vapor to ignite, resulting in the explosion.

The investigators also found evidence that, in their view, suggested serious flaws in the way the plant was operated.

They described “significant departures” from good health and safety procedures in a facility of this type, with management policies and procedures lacking sufficient detail.

“In the light of these findings, the suspension of Nature Port’s licence will not be lifted until a final decision is taken with regard to that licence after due process has been followed and all the material facts and issues considered,” the Gibraltar Government, which commissioned the investigation, said in a statement.

“The deficiencies, failings and shortcomings found in the report, and the extent to which they may have been remedied or be capable of remedy are material factors.”

The investigations undertaken by Capita Symonds examined the causes of the incident, the adequacy of the plant operator’s management systems and health and safety and accident management procedures and plans, and the condition of the tanks and plant.


The investigation found evidence that although the poor physical condition of the tanks was noted in 2008 during a survey by a local structural and engineering company, repairs had not been carried out.

The 2008 inspection also recommended annual surveys to ensure the structural integrity of the tanks but the investigators said they found no evidence that Nature had acted on the advice.

David Hughes, a health and safety consultant who formed part of the Capita Symonds team, wrote that “…, from routine inspection by a competent surveyor, any potentially affected areas should be easily detected and repaired by suitable means.”

“The areas on the two tank roofs will have been affected by corrosion and perforations which would have been visible many years prior to the incident of 31 May 2011, and thus readily discoverable by routine survey.”

Mr Hughes also noted that the plant was licensed to operate by the Environment Agency but that there was no evidence that the agency regularly inspected the facility.

The investigator found that even though the repairs to the tanks recommended in 2008 had not been carried out, Nature was granted a petroleum licence in November 2009 allowing it to handle products with a very low flashpoint.

Read More – SOURCE: http://www.chronicle.gi/headlines_details.php?id=23266