Diamond Plastics Corp. officials may have lost their battle to get the city of Grand Island, Neb., to accept free PVC pipe, but city officials now at least are considering PVC for future use.
Officials from PVC pipe extruder Diamond, based in Grand Island, stepped up their fight after city officials rejected free pipe for water line extensions in two residential subdivisions. On Dec. 2, Diamond officials met with the city council and members of the city's engineering staff to study the potential use of PVC pipe in two residential subdivisions.
Grand Island recently has had problems with contaminated soil in two areas that host more than 50 homes. City officials contend that there is a risk of permeation if PVC pipe is used.
``Diamond Plastics brought out the big guns, including Bob Walker from Uni-Bell [PVC Pipe Association],'' said Mitch Nickerson, a council member from Grand Island. ``Needless to say, they presented a sound case for using PVC pipe and supplied us with plenty of information to support the quality of their product.''
Still, the city has voted not to use PVC pipe in the current project and not to accept Diamond's gift.
``After quite a bit of discussion, the apparent consensus of the council was to move forward with ductile iron for this particular project,'' Nickerson wrote in a Dec. 4 e-mail. ``Because there is a perceived risk of permeation, we want the residents in the affected area to have a very high confidence level in the piping materials being used. These folks have had their world turned upside down over the past several weeks and we do not want them to have any reservations whatsoever about the water they drink and bathe in.
``Based on the solid presentation, there's no doubt in my mind we should consider using PVC in future applications as an alternative to ductile iron materials and I'm sure there will be follow-up discussions as well,'' Nickerson wrote.
For Diamond, it's a matter of proving that PVC should be used in potable water applications and the material is a viable alternative to ductile iron. Grand Island has not used PVC pipe, but surrounding communities such as Wood River, Neb., have used it for nearly 20 years.
Now, also, Diamond officials have evidence from the state Department of Environmental Quality that there is no contamination in the soil at the depth required for PVC pipe installation.
``Our argument still is the same, that the DEQ has told us that they've found no contamination in the soils,'' said Dennis Bauer, Diamond's vice president of sales and marketing. ``If that's the case, they have no reason not to use PVC.''
Diamond officials believe, too, that city officials have confused problems with polybutylene pipe used in service laterals with PVC pipe.
``You don't paint the entire plastics industry with two instances of permeation that don't involve PVC,'' Bauer said in a Dec. 4 telephone interview, referring to two cited instances of permeation in the Nebraska cities of North Platte and Lexington. Those two communities also use PVC pipe, officials said, and neither community has had a problem with the material. Polybutylene service lines no longer are manufactured or installed, but it was the only material of choice 30 years ago for that type of service line, officials from Uni-Bell said.
``We feel like we've made some progress,'' Bauer said. ``It appears that they're willing to help us. Some of them truly believe we should find a way to use PVC in this city. We need to get information on permeation to the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department.''