Failure of cast iron water main.

Our involvement was on behalf of the gas authority (claimant) who had suffered a loss, and who were seeking to recover their outlay from the water authority (defendant). Following the failure of a cast iron water main, escaping water (under pressure) penetrated a metal gas main, causing a large aperture and allowing water to enter the local gas network. A new length of yellow polyethylene gas pipe was inserted within the original pipe, with some escaping water still visible in the photographs. Our site visit and subsequent report ultimately supported the claimant’s position in seeking a recovery from the defendant.

Blocked drain filled with concrete.

During piling work for a construction project, it transpired that damage had been caused to a sewer pipe approximately three metres deep, and following concrete being poured in to deep piling holes, unbeknown to those undertaking this work, concrete entered the deep sewer and eventually caused a significant blockage. After extensive excavations to undercover the sewer pipe, due to the depth involved, we initially attended site for the defendant’s insurance company to undertake an investigation, and then once a claim was subsequently issued, we were asked to consider the repair costs and negotiate a settlement. We eventually agreed a reduction to the presented costs in the region of 25%.

Water pump failure due to loss of water supply.

This case involved a failed water main at a recycling centre which was feeding a sprinkler system. The incident involved issues with a contractor using the wrong type of water pipe and method of jointing this, resulting in an eventual leak and the nearby pump draining a reservoir for the sprinkler system. In addition to the need to replace the entire route of the water main with the correct type of pipe, there was an argument that the failure of the water pump resulted from security staff for the site not reacting to alarms triggered due to a depleting water supply. Our involvement included an initial site visit with the contractor, then meeting with representatives from the appointed loss adjuster and the site contractor who were responsible for all such infrastructure at the recycling centre, discussing quantum and then eventually providing assistance to the loss adjuster/insurer to aid their negotiations to settle the claim. A claim of approximately £200,000 eventually settled for £90,000.

Water escaping under high pressure.

During the use of a mechanical excavator on a construction site, a high pressure water main was struck, resulting in a release of water over 50 feet in to the air, as the photographs show. The considerable power of water escaping from a split in a pipe under high pressure can have significant consequences, fortunately on this occasion there were no injuries or other damage resulting from the escape of water, but this was deemed a major incident because of the proximity of a road and electricity pylons, involving the emergency services. Our role was to gather sufficient data during a site visit in order to investigate liability for the incident, and subsequent analysis of the high repair costs, including a diversion of the pipe.

Proximity of services.

These photographs represent what is often a similar picture across the UK, namely public highways that are congested with buried utility infrastructure. Some cables and pipes may remain in operation for more than 70 years, although newer services are constantly being installed each year. With increasing demand for services, accommodating these cables and pipes in certain areas is becoming more difficult to achieve, especially in more populated areas, and thus services may be laid in closer proximity to another party’s apparatus, sometimes in contradiction to recommended guidelines. The result of these proximity issues often increases the likelihood of damage when another service close by fails (such as a pipe burst), or in seeking to excavate to gain access to one particular service, interference is caused to another one. On this occasion the failure of the water main was established to have been caused by interference during another utility’s operations, and the claim issued to the water authority for more than £1m, relating to water entering a gas network, was successfully defended.

Post incident investigation.

These images show an attempt to recreate the original proximity and orientation of two buried services once the apparatus had been removed from site (to allow for a repair), and how the failure of one service can impact on another. In this case a failed asbestos water main resulted in water escaping under pressure and entering a local gas network due to the close proximity of the two services, leading to a third party claim in excess of £1m. Following an initial site visit, in order to try to determine the cause of the failure of the water pipe, the relevant parties sought to better understand the original positioning of the pipes where they would have been installed in the ground, the result being a clearer picture of the likely cause of the failure of the water pipe and how this affected the local gas network. We pushed for further analysis of the affected section of water pipe, and a more detailed testing of the water pipe by an independent third party determined that the failure was due to the actions of a third party contractor, and not a pipe integrity issue. Our client successfully denied liability.

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