Sustaining an Inspection Standard

Appropriate updates are critical to maintaining integrity of PACP

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For many years now, you have heard PACP (the Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program) pro-claimed as “the standard” in pipeline inspection. It is important to understand how it became the U.S. standard and how we can keep it current without losing the qualities of the standard.

PACP was initiated in 2002 at a time when many large consent decrees were being negotiated between municipalities and the U.S. EPA. For those of us who worked with CCTV data at that time, PACP was a welcome standard that defined many pipe defects, including the difference between fractured and broken pipe. While many system owners had developed their own standard, it soon became obvious that adopting a national standard would not only leave the responsibility for administering the program to someone else (NASSCO), but as more contractors became certified and proficient in PACP, it encouraged more competition in the marketplace.

Another reason PACP became a successful standard was its ability to accept data using technologies other than CCTV cameras, without the need for significant changes. As an example, PACP has the ability to record percent deformation in the percent column for CCTV observations, but we know that laser profiling provides a much more accurate measurement of the cross-sectional area lost than can be seen with just CCTV. Sonar has been used to record the volume of deposits that are underwater and cannot be seen.

As we move toward more sophisticated equipment to provide quantitative and qualitative inspection data on our pipes, and even the soil surrounding the pipes, we need to be mindful of the ramifications that significant modifications can have on PACP’s qualities as a standard.

Certainly, we have competing requirements. On one hand, we want to keep PACP current and relevant by addressing current technologies and applying new knowledge of rehabilitation technologies. On the other hand, we need to guard PACP from being a moving target in which software vendors need to constantly update their products, and users need to constantly review new codes and processes.

In 2010, NASSCO made some relatively significant changes (Version 6.0) to incorporate new codes and modify MACP (Manhole Assessment Certification Program) to include the level 1 and level 2 inspections. This year, we plan to make several minor modifications to PACP, including clarification of some of the verbiage and improved training material, but these im-provements will mostly provide the same basic material in an updated format.

Another relatively minor modification to PACP includes allowing entry of fracture lengths (for non-continuous defects) and widths. Fracture widths can now be measured with significant accuracy, and this data can be entered in the “value 2nd” column of the details form.

It is important to note that NASSCO will be making significant changes to help incorporate new technologies and meet the needs of the industry in 2013. Since it is important that we do not make major changes for several years after these updates are made, it is critical that we get it right the first time. We have many members who use these technologies successfully and we hope to work with them to make sure we meet their needs.

That said, I ask qualified members of our industry to get involved in helping us evolve PACP to meet our needs while maintaining the standard we have enjoyed all these years. We need to prepare now, as 2013 is right around the corner. Feel free to send me an email to express your interest in helping PACP meet these needs. F

Ted DeBoda is executive director of NASSCO. He can be reached at NASSCO is at 11521 Cronridge Drive, Suite J, Owings Mills, MD 21117


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