Editor's Log: San Bruno Report Clears Pipebursting; Rehab Zone's Faith In Industry; UCT Program Announced

September 2011, Vol. 66 No. 9

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the National Transportation Safety Board issued their final report on the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA, that occurred on Sept. 9, 2010. A 30-inch diameter natural gas transmission pipeline owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) ruptured in this residential area, killing eight people.

While some tried to pin the accident’s cause on a sewer pipe bursting project from more than 18 months earlier, the NTSB apparently found no connection and pipe bursting was excluded as a contributing factor in their report. Rather, the NTSB cited PG&E's lax approach to pipeline safety and the inadequate oversight of two government agencies in the probable cause of the most devastating pipeline accident in a decade.

The year-long NTSB investigation revealed that PG&E did not know what kind of pipe it had installed beneath the city of San Bruno in 1956. PG&E records initially provided to NTSB investigators indicated that the ruptured section of pipe was a 30-inch seamless pipe when in fact, at the time, no manufacturer produced seamless pipe.

Investigators also determined that the ruptured section of pipe was a collection of short pipe pieces, commonly known as "pups," joined together with welds. Further metallurgic assessment by NTSB investigators determined that some of the pipe sections did not meet minimum material specifications and that the welds were poorly constructed. Failure of one of the improperly welded seams caused the rupture during an increase in pressure which resulted from repair work being performed at a terminal upstream of the rupture site.

RehabZone: Faith In Industry
From a bare-bones concept just 10 years ago to the overwhelming industry success story it is today, the RehabZone at UCT continues its phenomenal growth and record of industry inclusion.

The basic concept was for industry businesses (many arch-rivals and competitors), to put aside their self-interests for a few days each year so that a fledgling rehabilitation market could provide generic, reliable and detailed information about the capabilities and purpose of a blossoming number of technologies steadily evolving to meet market niches. In short, the idea was to provide solutions, void of specific slanted sales pitches, so municipalities, contractors and consulting engineers could make informed decisions.