industrial piping solutions

Industrial Piping Solutions; Backflow Protection Case Study 2

Industrial Piping Solutions

Backflow Protection

Why it is so important to perform facility water cross connection surveys on a regular basis! Over 90% of the facilities that I have performed work in have had one form of cross connection between the drinking water and some form of chemical or contaminant. Each of these requires  industrial piping solutions.

Below you will see why it is so important to perform facility water cross connection surveys on a regular basis! It is also why you should choose experts for all  industrial piping solutions!

Industrial Piping Solutions Case Studies

Industrial Piping Solutions – Case Study 2 – Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

In July, 1982, a well meaning maintenance mechanic, in attempting to correct a fogging lens in an overcooled laser machine, installed a tempering valve in the laser cooling line, and inadvertently set the stage for a backpressure backflow incident that resulted in hexavalent chromium contaminating the potable water of a large electronic manufacturing company in Massachusetts employing 9,000 people. Quantities of 50 parts per million hexavalent chromium were found in the drinking water which is sufficient to cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal sickness. Because of well engineered industrial piping solutions, maintenance crews working during the plant shutdown were able to eliminate the crossconnection and thoroughly flush the potable water system, thereby preventing a serious health hazard from occurring. The incident occurred as follows:

  • Laser machine lenses were kept cool by circulating chilled water that came from a large refrigeration chiller. The water used in the chiller was treated with hexavalent chromium, a chemical additive used as an anticorrosive agent and an algicide. As a result, the chilled water presented a toxic, non-potable substance unfit for human consumption but very acceptable for industrial process water. No health hazard was present as long as the piping was identified, kept separate from potable drinking water lines, and not cross-connected to the potable water supply.
  • A maintenance mechanic correctly reasoned that by adding a tempering valve to the chilled water line, he could heat up the water a bit and eliminate fogging of the laser lenses resulting from the chilled water being too cold. The problem with the installation of the tempering valve was that a direct cross-connection had been inadvertently made between the toxic chilled water and the potable drinking water line!
  • Periodic maintenance to the chiller system was performed in the summer, requiring that an alternate chiller feed pump be temporarily installed. This replacement pump had an outlet pressure of 150 psi, and promptly established an imbalance of pressure at the tempering valve, thereby overpressurizing the 60 psi, potable supply. Backpressure backflow resulted and pushed the toxic chilled water from the water heater and then into the plant’s potable drinking water supply. Yellowish green water started pouring out of the drinking fountains, the washroom, and all potable outlets.

Industrial Piping Solutions Information

For more process piping design tips, check out the rest of the articles on this site for even more professional and  industrial piping solutions information!

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