What Were They Thinking?

Many years ago, I was at a wire mill (it is no longer in business) and was introduced to a young engineer who turned out to be one of the best engineers I had ever worked with. He had only been employed for a short period of time and had already discovered a number of problems at the plant including several safety issues.

He asked me to take a walk with him through the plant and he pointed out a number of problems that had nothing to due with our boiler and cooling water programs however I knew there was something bugging him as we approached one of the cooling towers we were treating.

He told me he had read my last service report regarding the high cooling tower conductivity (over 5000 micro mhos) and my recommendation to inspect the blowdown piping for line blockage as the blowdown water meter did not register flow when the solenoid BD valve was actuated. He stated that a new blowdown line had just been installed a month earlier. The new tower blowdown line was routed underground into a pit which connected to a tunnel at the front of the plant. He told me two of their plumbers inspected the old line and could find no blockage but decided to do as requested and installed a new line.

Before walking any further, he pointed out a large, puddle of water that was located near where the blowdown pipe went underground into the pit. He removed the pit man way cover and the pit was full of water. He then said, he noticed the puddle a few days ago and they had not had any rain since my last visit three weeks ago! He told me that he was going to have the pit pumped out and he was going to personally inspect the underground piping himself.

I received a phone call from him later that afternoon. He told me that the new blowdown line had been terminated underground into a blanked off line which happened to be an old natural gas pipeline! He said in a loud voice ” WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”

The blowdown line was routed to the city sewer line and the high conductivity problem was solved.

The confused plumbers were very lucky that there was no pressure on the gas line and the line had been previously purged. Good thing OSHA had not been there for an inspection that day. This is one of those stories that sound like fiction but it really did happen.

One thought on “What Were They Thinking?

  1. Gene, I love the concept of ‘Things I Have Seen Over the Years.’ Stories and experience are fun and valuable. With many years of experience come many years of learning and lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

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