Research suggests that aquifer contamination from leaking sewers is more widespread than previously believed (NCE last week). Given the attitude which the civil engineering profession has always shown to the structural integrity of pipelines this should come as no surprise. The subject is omitted from the academic training of civil engineers and is often delegated to component manufacturers who attach disclaimers to their design advice. The code of practice EN1295 covering the subject is also unknown to many engineers and ignores the inherent tendency of pipelines to settle - one of the most important aspects of design Traditionally, if pipeline structural failures occurred during construction, contractors were blamed - usually without investigation.
Just how much money has been shelled out by contractors over the years for design faults is likely to be a substantial sum.
Let us hope that the research referred to will lead not just to a reduction in ground water contamination but will awaken the profession to a blind spot of which it should be far from proud.
Jonathan Olliff (M), chief pipelines engineer and Sandra Rolfe (M), principal pipelines engineer, Montgomery Watson Harza, Jonathan.L.Olliff@uk. mwhgl obal. com