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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation P-15-034
Details
Synopsis: On March 12, 2014, about 9:30 a.m. eastern daylight time, two adjacent multiuse five-story buildings were destroyed by a natural gas-fueled explosion and resulting fire. The buildings were situated on the west side of Park Avenue between East 116th Street and East117th Street in the East Harlem district of the Borough of Manhattan in New York City. The violent explosion damaged buildings on the east and west sides of Park Avenue and along East116th and East 117th Streets. The Metro-North Railroad suspended rail service for about 71/2 hours on the elevated railway along Park Avenue because of debris from the explosion on the track. Eight people died, more than 50 people were injured, and more than 100 families were displaced from their homes as a result of this accident. The cost to Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (ConEdison), of equipment damages, emergency response activities, remediation, and replacement exceeded $1.9 million.
Recommendation: TO CONSOLIDATED EDISON COMPANY OF NEW YORK, INC.: Revise your plastic pipe fusion welding procedure to require cleaning of the surfaces to be welded with suitable solvents to remove all dirt, water, oil, paint, and other contaminants as recommended in ASTM F2620, Standard Practice for Heat Fusion Joining of Polyethylene Pipe and Fittings.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Pipeline
Location: Manhattan, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA14MP002
Accident Reports: ​Gas explosion and subsequent fireNatural Gas-Fueled Building Explosion and Resulting Fire
Report #: PAR-15-01
Accident Date: 3/12/2014
Issue Date: 6/29/2015
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed)
Date: 12/1/2017
Response: We note that your plastic fusion welding procedure (as documented in your specification G-8123 Rev. 17, effective 12/3/15) was updated to require PE pipe/tubing to be cleaned with alcohol wipes for all heat fusions, regardless of whether any contaminant is visible on the fusion surfaces, prior to the pipe being placed in the fusion machine. This specification complies with ASTM standard F2620. We also note that you are sponsoring a project with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) to evaluate solvent cleaning and PE joining procedures. The goals of this project, which you expect to finish shortly, are to gain knowledge about the use of liquid cleaning solvents and to develop solvent cleaning and surface preparation best practices. You plan to evaluate and implement the guidelines during 2018, after the GTI project concludes. Please inform us when the GTI study is completed and you have incorporated the resulting best practices and standards into the procedures and specifications you use for heat fusion joining of PE pipe and fittings. Pending those actions, Safety Recommendation P-15-34 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed)
To: NTSB
Date: 5/1/2017
Response: Marc E. Huestis, Senior Vice President: The plastic fusion welding procedure {G-8123 Rev. 17, effective 12/3/15) was updated to require the cleaning of PE pipe/tubing with alcohol wipes for all heat fusions, regardless of whether any contaminant is visible on the fusion surfaces, prior to the pipe being placed in the fusion machine. Please reference the attached Gas Specification G-8123-17, entitled, "Heat Fusion Joining of Polyethylene {PE} Plastic Pipe/Tubing and Fittings for Gas Mains and Services for further clarification. Also, Con Edison is sponsoring a project with the Gas Technology Institute that is evaluating solvent cleaning and polyethylene joining procedures. The project's goals are to gain knowledge of the issues related to the use of liquid cleaning solvents, to develop a data driven consensus on solvent cleaning best practices and to optimize the surface preparation process. Once the project is concluded, we will evaluate and implement the guidelines that are improvements to Con Edison's current preparation process for plastic fusion. We anticipate this project will conclude by the end of 2017, which would allow for evaluation and potential implementation of any proposed process changes in 2018.

From: NTSB
To: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed)
Date: 4/7/2017
Response: On December 21, 2015, based on information provided in your September 25, 2015, letter, Safety Recommendations P-15-34 and -37 were classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. To date, we have not received any further updates regarding your actions to address these recommendations.

From: NTSB
To: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed)
Date: 12/21/2015
Response: We understand that you will amend your plastic fusion procedures to comply with ASTM F2620, Standard Practice for Heat Fusion Joining of Polyethylene Pipe and Fittings, and that you are sponsoring a study by the Gas Technology Institute to evaluate solvent cleaning and polyethylene joining procedures, which you expect will be completed within 18 months. We note that your goal is to gain knowledge of the issues related to the use of liquid cleaning solvents, to develop a data driven consensus on solvent cleaning best practices, and to optimize the surface preparation process for plastic fusion. We further note that, upon completion of the study, you will adopt the resultant applicable guidelines and best practices. When completed, the actions you described will satisfy Safety Recommendation P-15-34; accordingly, it is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE pending your adoption of the guidelines and best practices. Please send us a copy of your revised fusion procedures once they become available.

From: Consolidated Edison (Con Ed)
To: NTSB
Date: 9/25/2015
Response: -From Craig S. Ivey, President: Con Edison's heat fusion joining procedure was qualified in accordance with PPI TR-33 and our pipe manufacturers' (JM Eagle and Performance Pipe) plastic fusion procedures. In general, the natural gas industry promotes the use of a dry, lint-free non-synthetic cloth to clean polyethylene (PE) plastic pipe prior to heat fusion (butt, sidewall, and branch). Consistent with ASTM F2620, Standard Practice for Heat Fusion Joining of Polyethylene Pipe and Fittings, Performance Pipe recently amended its fusion procedure PP750 to require the use of 90% or greater isopropyl alcohol (alcohol) to clean extremely dirty pipe, with the additional requirement that alcohol be applied before facing, but never after facing. Given that ASTM F2620 cites alcohol as the preferred method to clean extremely dirty pipe, Con Edison will amend its plastic fusion procedures to require the use of alcohol for all methods of heat fusion, regardless of whether any contaminant is visible on the fusion surfaces. For butt fusion we will only permit the use of alcohol before facing. This procedural change exceeds the current ASTM standard and eliminates operator discretion with respect to determining whether the pipe surfaces are visibly contaminated. Con Edison will amend its plastic fusion procedure (G-8123-16, Heat Fusion Joining of Polyethylene Plastic Pipe/Tubing and Fittings for Gas Mains and Services) to reflect this change and submit the amended procedure to the New York State Department of Public Service (NYSDPS) Staff for its 30-day review period. To drive standardization in the industry, the Company will sponsor an Operations Technology Development Study by the Gas Technology Institute, (a leading gas research, development and training organization), to evaluate Solvent Cleaning and Polyethylene Joining Procedures. The goal of the study is to gain knowledge of the issues related to the use of liquid cleaning solvents, develop a data driven consensus on solvent cleaning best practices, and to optimize the surface preparation process for plastic fusion. The study is anticipated to take approximately 18 months. Con Edison will adopt the applicable guidelines and best practices which result from the study.