Editor's Log: Under Siege

By Robert carpenter, Editor | May 2011, Vol. 66 No. 5

This sounds quite onerous to the average person. The problem is that without additional scientific studies and research, there is not enough evidence to make such a broad, declaratory statement. Quite the contrary is true. Europe and Canada all crossed the “styrene bridge” years ago by performing in-depth research and finding conclusively that styrene, in the quantities and methods used in CIPP, was in no way a health issue for humans.

On the world stage, the use of styrene is enormous. Even though CIPP is the world’s most widespread, proven rehab technology, it still comprises only about ½ of one percent of the global consumption of styrene.

There are certainly other methods that can be effective and economical for their specific niches, pipebursting being one. But on a widespread basis, it is rare to find effective alternatives at such economical construction cost rates.

Non-styrenated resins are available but largely unproven and much more expensive at this time. Financially-strapped cities are not able to keep up with infrastructure needs as is. If suddenly, a cost-effective and efficient pillar of any modern rehab program were to be removed from the marketplace, it would further exasperate an already-desperate infrastructure failure situation. Further, needlessly increasing costs to the sewer rehabilitation market in a broken economy means less work, fewer jobs and possibly putting the public health at risk due to leaking sewers.

Styrene has been used safely and effectively in thousands of products for decades. We use such products often many times each day without even realizing it. Styrene even occurs naturally in the environment. Without proper research, the potential impact upon America would be devastating. Europe and Canada have already proven, with comprehensive scientific research, that styrene is innocuous in the manner in which it is by the CIPP industry. The HSS should immediately initiate a further scientifically sound research project resolve any issues or concerns. That’s all that NASSCO and the styrene industry are asking. Just do the additional science before issuing such a potentially devastating characterization of styrene.

While the procedure used to bring us to this point has been legal, it is also wholly inadequate and morally questionable. We can only hope that the HHS shelves such an ill-advised, poorly conceived and onerous regulation to await the findings of additional solid science.