I read the article that was published by Mr. Walt Drabinski (WB) in the September 6 issue of Key West, The Newspaper.
I appreciate the opportunity to have The Newspaper publish a rebuttal to address some of the misinformation that was included in the article about High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). I selected 6 statements from the article and provided a brief response and links to supporting documents as listed below-
1. WB – An Environmental Nightmare?
Response: this is incorrect- the article did not provide the relevant facts to justify this title; to the contrary, the mayor of the city of Livonia, MI (and many other utilities in Florida and around the country) are using HDPE ‘to be environmentally progressive’ and ‘to save infrastructure in tough economic times’ as was documented in the ‘Best Practices’ section of the US Mayor magazine http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/livonia-mi-pe-pipe-replacement.pdf; Mayor Jack Kirksey concluded “The use of HDPE pipe is a progressive step that all other cities should consider to reduce costs and disruption of daily life during the project, and to improve their water infrastructure with a long-life product.”
Other cities in Florida that have or are using HDPE for water and sewer include:
- City of Tallahassee http://www.performancepipe.com/en-us/Pages/CityofTallahasseeFirsttoUseHDPEPipetoReplaceHOBASPipeUsingPipeBurstingConstructionMethod.aspx
- West Palm Beach http://www.tttechnologies.com/job_stories/pipe_ramming_stories/arrow_directional_boring_overcomes.html
- Miami-Dade http://www.plasticpipe.org/pdf/hdpe_pipe_brings_life_back_to_miami-dade.pdf
- Seminole County http://www.waterworld.com/articles/2011/11/hdpe-pipe-selected-for-florida-transmission-main.html
- Tampa, Casselbury, Cudjoe Key, Islamorada http://www.plasticpipe.org/municipal_pipe/current-projects.html
2. WB- It will be under pressures of 15psi to 60psi
Response: HDPE is commonly designed and installed to support gravity and pressure applications; for example, PE 4710 DR 21 has a pressure rating of 100 psi and DR 9 is rated at 250psi per ASTM F714 http://www.astm.org/Standards/F714.htm
3. WB- Could it be an environmental disaster in the future due to pipe failures? Or perhaps a financial disaster if the piping needs replacement in a few years?
Response: the answer to both questions is No; CSIRO concluded ‘polyethylene networks show significantly lower costs throughout their lifetime, and the combined benefits of low failure (rate) and low water loss rates can potentially result in long term cost savings.” Pls refer to the full paper for additional details http://www.pepipe.org/uploads/pdfs/Life_Cycle_Cost_Study.pdf. Also, see response # 4.
4. WB- has a tendency to become brittle and crack over time. It is inevitable that failures will occur at some time in the future.
Response: All materials will fail at some time in the future; however, properly specified, designed, installed and inspected HDPE sewer pipe will not crack or become brittle during its design life which can exceed 100 years. http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/mid-fatigue-plastic-water-pipe-01-12-12.pdf http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/evaluating-disinfectants-on-pe-pipe-nana-awwa.pdf
The Water Research Foundation concluded that the ‘failure rates of PE pipes under normal operating conditions are extremely low.” Also, the PE materials have significantly improved resistance to cracking and has a ‘very low predicted future failure rate” as summarized in here: http://www.waterrf.org/ExecutiveSummaryLibrary/91194_2975_profile.pdf
5. WB- A leak in a pressurized system
Response: Properly fused HDPE pipe has zero leakage per AWWA M55 http://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?ProductId=6743; other gasketed pipe materials allow leakage per their respective AWWA manuals and the owners’ specifications.
6. WB- there is an excellent web site
Response: this is incorrect- The author of the “excellent web site” does withhold his identity and commercial interests from the public.
For long service life of HDPE pipe, the owner, design engineer, installer and inspector have to follow the design and installation methods as required in multiple sources such as:
- HDPE Field Manual http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/mid-pe-field-manual-municipal-water-applications.pdf
- HDPE Fusion Training http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/tn-42-min-training-guide-pe-butt-fusion.pdf
- HDPE Model Specs http://plasticpipe.org/pdf/ms3_model_spec_pe_pipe_tubing_fittings_water.pdf
- AWWA HDPE C906 Std. http://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productid=6904
- AWWA HDPE C901 Std. http://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productid=6900
- AWWA HDPE DVD http://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productid=7164
- AWWA HDPE M55 Manual http://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productid=6743
- ASTM F714 Std http://www.astm.org/Standards/F714.htm
In conclusion, properly specified, designed, installed and inspected HDPE Pipelines will provide the County with a piping system that has a long service life. As Mayor Kirksey concluded, “The use of HDPE pipe is a progressive step that all other cities should consider to reduce costs and disruption of daily life during the project, and to improve their water infrastructure with a long-life product.”
Camille George Rubeiz is the Director of Engineering (M&I) for the Plastics Pipe Institute. Mr. Rubeiz holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Tennessee and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is also a registered professional engineer in the State of New York. Mr. Rubeiz serves as the Secretary of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Standards Committee on Polyolefin (HDPE) Pressure Pipe and Fittings and is a member of the Florid section of AWWA; in addition, Mr. Rubeiz is an Associate Editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Journal of Pipeline Systems Engineering and Practice and is the Co-Chair of the HDPE Municipal Advisory Board.
Contact: Camille George Rubeiz, PE, Director of Engineering (M&I), Plastics Pipe Institute, 469-499-1050, firstname.lastname@example.org