Review of common construction practice finds environmental contamination, need for improved oversight and monitoring | 5/15/2018 | Staff
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An in-depth review of environmental protections for a common storm water culvert repair practice—cured-in-place pipe repair, or CIPP—has revealed differing installation practices across states, water contamination incidents in 10 states and Canada, and lack of safety data for existing installation practices.

Funded by six states, Purdue University researchers examined past water contamination incidents, environmental studies, industry practices and construction specifications from 32 states.

Creek - River - Pond - Water - Contamination

Creek, river, pond, and sometimes drinking water contamination incidents were found in 10 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Of the 32 states that responded to the researchers' request for information, only four states required water testing after the construction procedure, and the test methods used were often not the same. Nine states had no formal requirements to oversee or monitor the procedure's environmental impacts.

Andrew - Whelton - Associate - Professor - Engineering

Andrew Whelton, associate professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering, says many states and municipalities are beginning to re-examine how CIPP is used and lessen the potential harm to nearby water and air.

"State transportation agencies want to repair their infrastructure without having to worry about fish kills, drinking water contamination, or chemical incident cleanup," he says. "There have been some significant incidents."

Storm - Water - Culverts - Water - Roadways

Storm water culverts allow water to flow under roadways. When culverts fail, roadways can collapse and flood, thereby, jeopardizing public safety.

A popular method of repairing culverts, CIPP utilizes resin-impregnated fabric that is hardened inside a damaged pipe using pressurized steam, hot water, or UV light, creating a new plastic pipe inside the old, damaged pipe.

Process - Mix - Chemicals - Air - Water

The process, if not well controlled, can release a worrisome mix of hazardous chemicals into the air and water, although what exactly is discharged, and how that varies site to site, is just beginning to be understood.

"In 2014, waste produced at an Alabama culvert repair site was found to be acutely contaminated and...
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