Water Pipelines

Fatigue Causes Main Break

A Cambridge, Mass., water-main break on June 4 was caused by thermal cycling of underground piping and fatigue in the decade-old water main, says Sam Corda, managing director of the city's Water Dept. The water main cracked at the bell, and an 18-in. triangular piece broke off; however, water pressure was restored within 24 hours, says the Cambridge Dept. of Public Works. Thermal cycling of underground piping caused by changes in water temperature can increase stresses in the metal and casting, Corda says.


San Francisco Public Utility OKs Big Dam Replacement Project

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission awarded a $259-million construction contract for its Calaveras Dam replacement project to a joint venture of Dragados USA, New York City; Sukut Construction Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.; and Flatiron West Inc., Firestone, Colo. The new, 210-ft-high, earth- and rock-fill dam will replace an 85-year-old seismically suspect structure. The new dam will have a crest length of 1,210 ft, a base thickness of 1,180 ft, and a crest thickness of 80 ft. It will be able to withstand a magnitude-7.25 earthquake. Construction will begin in August, with an anticipated completion date in late 2015. The SFPUC also awarded a $45.3-million contract to Contri Construction, Las Vegas, for the installation of the eastern segment of an additional 7-mile pipeline as part of the San Joaquin Pipeline System. The projects are part of the $4.6-billion Water System Improvement Program.


Corps' Permit Allows Demolition Of 125-Ft-High Oregon Dam

Portland, Ore.-based utility PacifiCorp is set to breach the 68-year-old Condit dam on the White Salmon River in south central Washington state in October after receiving a sediment management permit from the U.S. Corps of Engineers in June. The breach will be the first step toward removal of one of the largest dams in the U.S. JR Merit Inc., Vancouver, Wash., is the contractor for the $32-million project. Plans call for workers to excavate a 90-ft- long drain tunnel, dredge the upstream side of the dam at the drain tunnel and strengthen a bridge that crosses the dammed area, called Northwestern Lake. Then, in October, workers will blast a 13-ft-dia hole near the base of the dam. After the breach, demolition of the remaining portion of the 125-ft-high, 471-ft-long concrete gravity diversion dam will occur in spring 2012. Work is expected to be complete by the end of 2012. The dam removal is expected to improve the salmon habitat.


Michael Baker Buys Las Vegas Architecture Firm JMA

Nevada's largest architecture firm, JMA Architecture Studios, was sold in an all-cash deal to Michael Baker Corp. Financial terms were not disclosed. Michael Baker is a 71-year-old engineering and design firm, based in Moon Township, Pa. Baker recorded $499.4 million in billings in 2010. Las Vegas-based JMA is a privately held architecture, planning and interior-design practice with 40 employees. JMA had $10 million in billings in 2010, or 75% less than five years prior when Architectural Record ranked JMA as the nation's 45th largest architecture firm, with 200 employees and $40 million in billings. JMA will continue to operate under its current name as a Michael Baker Corp. subsidiary. JMA owner Thomas Schoeman will remain as company president, although his duties will now focus on business development.

Nuclear Power

Modular Projects Move Forward

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Babcock & Wilcox's Generation mPower, Charlotte, N.C., announced on June 16 that they have signed an agreement to develop up to six small modular nuclear reactors at TVA's Clinch River site in Tennessee. The agreement moves forward an arrangement the two entities entered into last year. The letter of intent signed by TVA and mPower outlines how the two will license, design and construct the 125-MW units. MPower says the first unit is on track to be operational in 2020.


Fluor Pays $4 Million To Settle Federal Charges Against Ex-Workers at Hanford

A Fluor Corp. unit at the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Hanford nuclear-waste site in Washington state will pay $4 million to settle allegations that workers filed false claims and received kickbacks related to the firm's federal contract, the U.S. Justice Dept. said on June 17. From 2003 to 2008, the Fluor Hanford Inc. employees “made hundreds of fraudulent purchases using government purchase cards, using their positions and exploiting weaknesses in Fluor's internal control system to funnel DOE funds to themselves,” the Justice Dept. said.

The settlement was in the government's “best interest,” says a Fluor spokesman. “We did not knowingly submit false claims, and we did not receive any kickbacks, as alleged. We don't in any way, shape or form condone this type of behavior.” He says Fluor Hanford audits between 2001 and 2008 discovered problems in purchase card controls and informed DOE's inspector general. Fluor also “cooperated fully in the investigation,” he adds.

But the Justice Dept. says Fluor “failed to address” system flaws, allowing schemes to continue for years, and says 14 employees also accepted kickbacks from a Pasco, Wash., pipe supplier to influence more than $3.5 million in purchases. Five former Fluor employees were indicted for participation in schemes. Four pleaded guilty; a fifth is awaiting trial.