September 2011, Vol. 66 No. 9

Editor's Log

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

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.

It was a simple concept; that by growing the industry through unbiased, generic information, everyone prospers in the long run. Early on, detractors said the idea was overly idealistic and had no chance of succeeding. Fortunately, those who supported the RehabZone during its developmental years had faith in industry. That faith has been rewarded to a degree that has shocked even the most ardent RehabZone supporters.

The RehabZone was an instant success as it cut through the hype and hysteria, presented facts, provided tactile displays and demonstrations, and through it all, has maintained a strict “no-sale” policy so that information gathered in the ’Zone is not tainted. The policy has always been that if people want specific information, a list of UCT exhibitors is then provided so they can pursue that information at their discretion outside of the RehabZone. But while in the ’Zone, proprietary discussions are banned. RehabZone attendees can look, touch, observe and ask questions at their leisure – all without any sales pressure.

The overall rehabilitation industry has grown at a phenomenal rate – even during slow economic conditions – and continues to do so. For 10 years, the RehabZone has proved invaluable for thousands of industry personnel. The concept keeps growing, more people are getting involved each year and the rehabilitation market continues to prosper. Sometimes it pays to have a little faith in our industry to do the right thing.

UCT Education Program details announced
It’s that time of the year again when the much-anticipated educational program is announced for the Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition. UCT will be held in San Antonio, Jan. 24-26 with pre- and post-show programs offering even more vital learning and training opportunities. Check out all the details at

The program doesn’t pull punches. People don’t come to UCT to learn more about the obvious or overdone topics, be overwhelmed with technical jargon or sit through routine case history presentations. They come to UCT for factual, timely and beneficial information. That’s a weighty responsibility for the various program committees to shoulder each year. But it’s also what has made the UCT Educational Program the benchmark by which other programs are measured.

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