Bellevue pipelines are termed 'high-risk' : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Bellevue pipelines are termed 'high-risk'

Tuesday, March 7, 2000



BELLEVUE -- Pipelines that run beneath the city are rife with "high-risk factors" that call for more intense inspections to ensure a catastrophe similar to the one in Bellingham will not happen here, a consultant told the Bellevue City Council last night.

And without assurances of such inspections, pipeline consultant Richard Kuprewicz said last night, the city should seek high-pressure water tests known as hydrostatic testing on both of its lines in Bellevue.

"Bellevue has several high-risk factors including its population density and extreme topography," Kuprewicz said.

"If the industry cannot come forward with more sophisticated technology to assure safety, than hydro tests may be the way to go."

Kuprewicz, a chemical engineer and president of Accufacts Inc. of Redmond, presented those recommendations as part of his analysis of inspection data of roughly 11 miles of Olympic Pipe Line Co.'s lines in Bellevue.

He also showed how the two lines peak and fall through the city's rolling topography. The lines are under more stress in areas where they dip, Kuprewicz said.

Resembling a roller coaster stock market report, the elevation report showed "the fairly extreme" nature of the lines in Bellevue.

Fears have run high in Bellevue and in other cities along Olympic Pipe Line's 400-mile system since a pipeline ruptured in Bellingham last June and killed three people.

Those fears intensified after the Renton-based firm released inspection data showing that a twin stretch of underground pipes running east of Interstate 405 contained at least 29 dents, buckles, mashes and other "anomalies."

So Bellevue hired consultant Kuprewicz to review Olympic's latest inspection data from 1996 and 1997.

The city wants to know whether Olympic acted appropriately when it repaired only six of the flaws that internal pipe inspection devices, known as "smart pigs," detected in pipes here.

The remaining 23 defects and anomalies were left untouched.

Olympic officials have said that, in accordance to industry standards and government regulations set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the company properly corrected all of the defects that warranted such repair work.

According to inspection data, repairs along the pipes in Bellevue consisted of applying protective coating to pipes with dents, corrosion and mashes and replacing sections of damaged pipe.

The remaining anomalies detected but left untouched consisted of mostly minor corrosion to pipe walls that do not pose failure risks nor require additional examination or repairs, said Maggie Brown, a company spokeswoman.

Assessing whether the company acted correctly is difficult, Kuprewicz said, given the unsophisticated nature of smart pig instruments during its last inspections here in 1997.

"Substantially more information is needed to assess the integrity of the lines," Kuprewicz said.

To properly assess the lines, Olympic would need to provide more sophisticated smart pig tests, he said. The company has said it intends to do that this year. But if such tests do not provide the data needed, Kuprewicz said, hydrotesting appears to be the only valid way to test the pipeline's integrity.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 07, 2000

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