Underground Construction - July 2019 - 24

CONVENTION REVIEW

DCA-AGA

Eben Wyman
DCA Government Liaison

Workshop Discusses Industry Issues, Successes

On April 22-24, the Distribution
Contractors Association (DCA) and the
American Gas Association (AGA), held
the 6th Annual DCA/CGA Workshop in
Chicago. The workshops are intended to
increase communication and cooperation
between local distribution companies
(LDCs) and the contractors who build gas
distribution infrastructure for them.
These events reflect the strong relationship between DCA and AGA, and this year's
workshop addressed a range of high-profile
issues at a time when policymakers were
beginning to focus on pipeline safety,
and the distribution sector was receiving
significant attention.

Merrimack Valley
In September 2018, a series of explosions
and fires occurred after a gas distribution
system released high-pressure natural gas

into a low-pressure system in Merrimack
Valley, Mass. While this incident presented
several challenges facing the gas distribution industry just months before Congress
began the next reauthorization of the nation's pipeline safety program, the industry
response provides an ideal example of how
pipeline operators and contractors work
together in an emergency.
The Merrimack Valley incident began
as a replacement project of 1,100 miles
of pipe, where the LDC was replacing a
cast-iron main with a plastic distribution
main. The iron pipe being replaced had
regulator-sensing lines used to detect
pressure in the distribution system. When
the cast iron main was disconnected, the
section containing the regulator-sensing
lines began losing pressure. As pressure
dropped, regulators opened up, increasing
pressure in the distribution system, which

then started failing and resulted in leaks
and explosions. There was one fatality and
destruction of several homes.
The panel discussing the follow-up to
the incident consisted of representatives
from Miller Pipeline and InfraSource, two
construction companies that were front
and center in the response to this incident.
According to these contractors, the response
and preparation by the LDC was as effective
as it could be. Through close cooperation,
the utility and participating contractors
were able to mobilize and "onboard" approximately 200 new crews in about 10 days.
Crews were housed; and resource planning, permitting and change approval processes were accelerated to enable 50 miles
of pipe to be replaced in 50 days - with no
recordable OSHA incidents - underscoring
exemplary cooperation between an LDC
and contractor crews.
The panel spent a good amount of
time discussing the onboarding process.
Obviously ensuring workers had the
qualifications needed to perform the work
was critical, and LDC representatives could
not have been better prepared to put new
crews to work, according to these contractors. Interaction with unions also came
into play, and through cooperation and
communication, seemingly countless manhours of work were performed without
incident, and downtime was cut in half.
While unfortunate, this incident clearly
provided an example of "how to" respond
and underscores a success story in terms
of mutual aid.

Pipeline Safety
Management Systems

DCA Executive Vice President Rob Darden introduced the event.

24

JULY 2019 | UConOnline.com

Pipeline Safety Managements Systems
(SMS) has been a main focus in the halls of
the U.S. Department of Transportation's
(DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA) for the


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Underground Construction - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underground Construction - July 2019

Contents
Underground Construction - July 2019 - FC
Underground Construction - July 2019 - IFC
Underground Construction - July 2019 - Contents
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 4
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