Pipe problems hit civic water project in centre of Langley


Bad seals and work safety issues have brought at least a temporary halt to work on one section the East Langley Water Supply Project.

Contractors have been installing sections of the new pipeline that will bring municipal water to Aldergrove, Gloucester Industrial area, and other parts of eastern and central Langley.

Last week, there was a delay on a work site near 52nd Avenue and 248th Street.

Township staff members spotted activity that they felt needed WorkSafe oversight, according to Ramin Seifi, general manager of engineering and community development for the Township.

The issue was whether workers should enter a confined space – crawling into a two-foot-wide pipe to check out an issue.

The problem began when the contractors tested the seals on the sections of pipes, said Dave McCormick, a utilities planning engineer with the Township.

The pipes in that stretch are made of ductile iron, and the sections of pipe lock together with mechanical locks, and don’t require welding.

During testing, there were issues with the seals between sections.

The contractor suggested sending a worker into the pipe system to check out what was wrong.

The Township demurred, and called in WorkSafe BC to assess whether that was a safe procedure.

“It was high up on our radar, because of the issue we had last year,” said McCormick.

In 2013, work was halted due to similar issues – workers were inside pipes that WorkSafe said were not properly ventilated. 

Near 216th Street, workers were installing pipes for an earlier phase, with a 90 cm (three foot) diameter. Those pipes required welding and sealing from the inside, and Worksafe took issue with the procedures for rescue and air supply. The procedures were tested out before workers were allowed to go back into the pipeline.

In this case, Worksafe was not in favour of anyone going into the 60 cm (two feet) diameter pipe.

“Their thinking is that it will have to be done some other way,” said McCormick.

There was no stop work order issued, and no one entered the pipe before WorkSafe assessed the plan, said McCormick.

It’s uncertain what will happen now to that stretch of pipeline.

“At this point we’re still in the investigation stage,” said McCormick.

The Township should not be on the hook for costs if there is a delay, or if the entire section of pipeline needs to be replaced.

“This is an issue for the contractor,” said McCormick. Contractors working on the project can’t go over the Township’s budget without permission, and there has been no request for more money yet.

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