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VI Sends Letter to DOI Regarding Corrosion Guidelines

May 2017

On May 3rd, the Vinyl Institute sent a joint letter to the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke asking the Secretary to immediately rescind a January 19, 2017 memo that relaxed longstanding Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) corrosion guidelines at the insistence of Senator Shelby (R-AL).  The letter also asked the BoR to refrain from making any additional modifications to longstanding corrosion guidelines until the results from a taxpayer funded study was completed. 

The memo in question was part of an on-going effort by the Alabama Congressional delegation to promote ductile iron pipe regardless of the science or cost to taxpayers.  The move is in conjunction to efforts by Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) to weaken the USDA’s Rural Utility Services program’s open and free competition policy related to pipes.  The letter pointed out that the reason for the memo was an arrangement between the BoR and Congress to provide a temporary relaxation of longstanding corrosion guidelines while a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) which analyzed the performance of zinc-coated ductile iron pipe could be conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of the different technology. 

An earlier study by the National Science Foundation (also at the demand of the Alabama Congressional delegation) found that nothing can stop iron pipes from corroding. Even though the Bureau of Reclamations has spent more than $1 million on the study, the ORNL still had not released their final report.  One can only wonder why. 

In the meantime, the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 directs the Bureau of Reclamation to continue following the lax guidance without any reference to the study or the result.  

The letter was signed by PVCPA, Diamond Plastics, and Northwest Pipe in addition to the Vinyl Institute.