CE repairs pipeline, keeps mission flowing
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels maintenance section successfully repaired a four inch pipeline that supplies the main base boiler plant at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 9, 2016. With the pipeline fixed, base personnel can successfully receive hot water on a consistent basis.
The pipeline ruptured Jan. 28. The suspected cause of the break was from the cold weather condensing the ground making it more rigid. As the ground becomes more rigid, it increases the possibility for the ground to move which can cause the pipes to burst. Pipelines often burst when pressure changes in the atmosphere, land shifts during an earthquake or when low and high temperatures change the environment around the pipes.
"It's valuable for us to keep the pipelines in working condition because we need to make sure the base has good clean water," said Airman 1st Class Colton Hunkeapillar, 374 CES water fuel system maintenance journeyman. "We inspect the pipelines and valves on a regular basis and perform preventative maintenance to ensure they work effectively."
The process to fix a pipeline begins with members of the water and fuels maintenance section excavating the earth around the pipe. Then, a pump is placed into the hole to remove the water for the maintainers to fix the pipe. From there, personnel isolate the valve to shut it off and perform repairs.
In this particular instance of a pipeline needing repairs, the crew was unable to effectively shut down the waterline because the valves needed to be replaced.
"The water system on Yokota is approximately 70-years-old, and we could not get a positive shut off to the location without shutting down other facilities," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Teuscher, 374 CES water and fuels maintenance section NCO in charge and scheduler. "We had to place a valve on the water main to isolate the section of pipeline and repair it."
After shutting off the water, the maintenance section used a K-12 cutting saw to remove part of the metal pipeline and place a new pipe with two Hymax mechanical coup links. This allowed the pipeline to effectively work again without releasing water. This specific pipeline produces about 3,000 gallons per day for the building it runs through, and approximately 2.1 million gallons of water flows through Yokota's water distribution system daily.
From here, the water and fuels maintenance section will continue its objective to support the base populace and the mission. This is completed by taking care of the water and sewer distribution system and ensuring the aircraft can effectively receive JP8 fuel though the underground pipelines.