Plastic Pipe Facts™

Virgin Valley Water District, Mesquite, Nevada:

In February 2012, the Virgin Valley Water District in Mesquite, Nevada settled a 3-year old lawsuit against a manufacturer of HDPE pipe and its insurance company for $3.8 million.  The District sued the predecessor of the manufacturer, Vanguard Piping Systems (Bruiser Pipe), in 2009 in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada alleging repeated failures in polyethylene pipe supplied by Vanguard – many "within years of installation." Damages sought by the District included not only the value of the burst pipe, but also damages to "surrounding property including, but not limited to asphalt and sidewalks."

In its expert report, the expert witness for the District, GT Engineering, concluded that "examination and testing of failed pipes showed that the cause for failure was inner diameter surface embrittlement, the result of oxidative degradation of the pipe material . . . this surface embrittlement results in initiation of cracks that grow through the pipe wall.  The chlorinated water environment leading to oxidative degradation documented in pipes of relatively short exposure would be expected to degrade all pipes of similar material chemistry and manufacture.  The effects of surface embrittlement on shortened pipe life is well established." (Figures below: GT Engineering, "Investigation of Vanguard Bruiser PE 3408 Water Distribution Line Pipe Failures At Virgin Valley Water District, Mesquite, Nevada")

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The settlement agreement stipulated that the HDPE pipe manufacturer and its insurance company pay $3.8 million to the District with no admission of liability by either party.