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THE PIPE BREAK OF THE WINTER OF 2003 MIDDLESEX COUNTY UTILITIES AUTHORITY PIPELINE FAILURE

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On March 2, 2003, at 9:30 a.m., Middlesex County Utility Authority's 102-inch Sayreville Relief Force Main ruptured causing millions of gallons of untreated wastewater to be discharged to the Raritan River. The Sayreville Relief Force Main was constructed in the late 1970's using Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe manufactured by Interpace Corporation. The failure was determined to be caused by a combination of events. The failed section of pipe showed evidence of severe corrosion of the pre-stressed reinforcing wire and degradation of the protective mortar coating. A lightening strike caused power failure fluctuations in the area and resulted in loss of power to two of the operating pumps. The pump shutdown caused a hydraulic transient which exceeded the compromised strength of the failed pipe section.

An internal investigation of the pipeline using electromagnetic technology was conducted in July, 2003. This recent technological development enables determination of breaks in the prestressed reinforcing wire. A description of the techniques and results of the survey will be discussed. Additionally, an acoustic monitoring system for the pipeline was installed in December 2003. This system uses sonar technology to hear breaks, as they occur, in the prestress wire.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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