and construction of new infrastructure to accord with current knowledge, approaches, technologies, and practice. Retrofitting can be challenging due to complexities presented by site constraints, environmental conditions, and so on. For new construction, engineering designs must be undertaken with due consideration given to the anticipated seismic shaking demand for a given geographic location. The approach for pipeline safety should be no different than the approach we undertake—as we learn more—to continually improve the earthquake resistance of our buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure. Implementation of improvements is always a long-term process that needs to be administered in a sequential manner; as such, “now” is the best time to commence this work. Resources needed to implement improvements to existing and new pipelines include: trained engineering personnel with the right expertise; development of innovative and cost-effective technologies; and reliable, adequate amounts and rates of funding. Securing resources to hedge against relatively infrequent, high- consequence events, such as earthquakes, means convincing potential funding agencies. In this regard, dissemination of reliable information to, and effective engagement with, decision makers—the public, government, regulators—are essential. Any direct measurement of the value and significance of seismic upgrading of infrastructure would be possible only after the occurrence of a strong earthquake event. Experience elsewhere indicates that investing to increase earthquake resilience of infrastructure significantly contributes towards increased life safety, reduced environmental and economic impact, and so on. Seismic upgrading work already undertaken by government agencies and local utilities in BC and in other seismically active regions supports the rationality of this thinking. v Dr. Dharma Wijewickreme, P.Eng., is a Professor of Civil Engineering at UBC and also Director of the Pipeline Integrity Institute at UBC. He recently assumed responsibility as president-elect of the Canadian Geotechnical Society and will serve as the society’s president starting 2017. He has 11 years of experience as a consulting engineer and over 15 years as an academic. His main research focus is on earthquake-induced soil liquefaction and pipeline geotechnical engineering.
Pipeline Safety During Seismic Events Pipelines are critical to the safe transport of fluids, such as drinking water, oil, and gas, that are essential to the day-to-day life of citizens and operations of our province. With large numbers and sections of BC's pipelines located belowground, the risk of earthquake damage to pipelines arising from ground displacements such as soil liquefaction and landslides is a major concern. It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that our pipelines are safe and secure—to ensure our health and quality of life, to protect the communities and environment, and to promote economic growth and value creation. Utility owners, pipeline operators, and government are paying increased attention to pipeline integrity, with a collective aim “towards zero incidents.” Professionals in fields such as geology, seismology, civil, mechanical, and materials engineering play key roles in improving the earthquake resilience of BC’s pipeline infrastructure. Despite its simple tubular structure, a pipeline’s engineering becomes complex when it must cross varied topography and geology over long distances. The challenges increase when the terrain to be crossed presents earthquake-related risks. From a high-level perspective, there is a need to focus on a number of key aspects with respect to pipeline integrity and safety. These include: teaching/ training to generate a skilled workforce; research for innovation, advancing technology and engineering state-of-practice; generation of reliable information for use by engineers and society; and effective dissemination of such information. From a technical perspective, opportunity exists for continued improvements in pipe materials, geotechnical approaches used for buried-pipeline construction, structural design solutions, and, in turn, for reduced earthquake-damage risk to pipelines. The pipeline sector has undertaken several initiatives to address these recognised needs. The recently established Pipeline Integrity Institute at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is one good example in this regard. The institute is inspired by the ongoing research at UBC and the needs identified by industry and government. It offers a new undergraduate specialisation in pipeline engineering and conducts applied-outcome research on pipeline-related topics. Implementation of seismic improvements falls into two main categories: retrofit of existing infrastructure;
Dr. Dharma Wijewickreme, P.Eng.
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