Tank Corrosion, Collapse Spur Hearing


Corrosion that was eating "its way upwards" in a water tank was allegedly ignored for years, leading to a catastrophic collapse that sent a flood of water through a nearby church, Kentucky investigators have concluded.

The investigation by the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) into the August 9, 2014, collapse of a water tank in Waddy, KY, has led to allegations that U.S. 60 Water District failed to heed warnings of corrosion problems in the structure.

Although no one was injured, the collapse of the 177,000-gallon water tank resulted in a flood of water that destroyed a maintenance shed at the Waddy Baptist Church and damaged several other buildings, including the church itself. Total damages exceeded $25,000.

3 Violations Alleged

The PSC issued an order Thursday (April 2) to open a proceeding to determine whether the utility violated three regulations—two related to inspection and maintenance and one related to timely reporting of serious accidents.

The order, known as a "show-cause," opens a formal proceeding and directs the water district to respond in writing to the allegations. The utility has 20 days to respond, and a hearing on the case has been scheduled for June 30.

The Public Service Commission is an independent agency attached to the Energy and Environment Cabinet for administrative purposes. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities in Kentucky.

U.S. 60 Water District contracts with North Shelby Water Company to manage and operate the water system. The utility serves 2,368 customers.

Bolted Seam Split

Built between 1979 and 1982, the tank was a glass-lined stand pipe made of steel panels that were bolted together. An analysis of the collapse found that the tank split along the bolted seams near its base, according to the PSC. The top part of the tank separated and fell off the base, away from nearby buildings.

The tank was full at the time of the collapse.

The church's maintenance shed was "completely demolished, leaving only the concrete foundation that the maintenance shed was built on," the incident report said.

The flood of water caused more than $25,000 in damage, including damage to the Waddy Baptist Church's Sunday school building (left) and maintenance shed, which was demolished to its foundation (right).

Damage was also reported to the church's Sunday school building, a nearby parked car, and the church basement and foundation.

'Fairly Aggressive' Corrosion

PSC said that a 2011 inspection of the tank's interior, done by remote-controlled video camera, detected "fairly aggressive" corrosion that was "starting to eat its way upward."

The inspection was performed by Liquid Engineering Corp., which had been hired by the U.S. 60 Water District.

According to the order, the inspection report recommended that the water district install cathodic protection and reinspect the tank every three to five years. In an accompanying inspection video, the inspector verbally recommends having a diver take a closer look at visible pitting.

The PSC review alleges that the utility failed to notify it about the collapse. The commission said it had learned about the accident from news reports.

When the utility filed its written report on the collapse, it acknowledged the 2011 inspection but said the review "did not indicate any significant issues that indicated this type of problem," according to the PSC.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Corrosion; Health & Safety; Inspection; North America; Water Tanks

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.