HDPE pipe problems seem a bit overstated
I read the April 20, Page 4 ``Problems with pipe'' stories and the April 27 Viewpoint.
While it is important to inform your readers about news in the plastics industry, I'm concerned readers may be overly alarmed about the April 14 National Transportation Safety Board report on the Waterloo, Iowa, incident.
In fact, several gas firms have called me asking about this NTSB report, stating ``we already know this and have it under control.''
Leaks from all gas pipes, both plastic and metal, are being managed by the gas industry. Based on their lead survey results, they use economics and risk assessment analyses to determine when and if a particular type of pipe should be replaced. To keep this in perspective, the 1987 American Gas Association study, ``Operating Section Proceedings,'' found ``plastic systems leak at less than half the rate of wrapped-steel systems when third-party damages are excluded.'' This superior performance of plastic pipe is why the gas industry selected plastic pipe over metal pipe in the 1970s and continues to do so today.
The NTSB report summarized several months of investigation in one plastic gas-pipe incident. Let's not have this report and its conclusions overshadow the outstanding performance of plastic pipe in the gas industry. True, sometimes there are failures, especially with older-generation plastics. The gas industry is very much aware of the performance of older pipes and manages its piping systems with leak surveys.
Plastic pipe, especially polyethylene pipe, is the gas industry's best material. There is risk in the transport of combustible mediums. The gas industry is a high-risk and high-liability industry, which is why it is very careful in selecting materials. The industry has chosen the best material for transporting natural gas: PE.
Plastics Pipe Institute
Cartoon a disservice to PVC pipe makers
While I appreciate the fact that your weekly editorial cartoons are meant to take a lighter look at some of the issues facing the plastics industry, the cartoon that ran in the April 27 issue has done a serious disservice to one of the most symbolic and significant products made by our industry — a product that has been used safely for decades.
Point in fact, your cartoon, which refers to household plumbing pipe, has nothing to do with the pipe in question in the rural Kansas water districts. No PVC pipe installed today — neither inside nor outside the home — is made to the same standards in place 20 years ago, and there has been absolutely no question as to whether new PVC pipe meets current drinking-water standards.
Given the superior performance PVC provides to millions of homeowners and municipalities around the world, it would be a shame if an ill-conceived shot like your cartoon persuaded even one family to select an alternative piping material for its home. One need only ask homeowners in California — who are facing enormous costs to replace corroding copper pipe — to appreciate the true value PVC pipe offers.
Vinyl Pipe Institute