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DWP Installs Quake-Resistant Pipes Near Northridge Hospital

LOS ANGELES ( — Almost exactly 21 years after the Northridge earthquake, city officials were set Friday to install high-tech pipes to help make one of the San Fernando Valley's biggest hospitals ready for the next big quake.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti along with officials from the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Northridge Hospital Medical Center were expcted to announce the installation of approximately 6,500 feet of "earthquake resistant ductile iron pipe" (ERDIP) on streets surrounding the hospital.

Developed and manufactured in Japan, the Kubota earthquake resistant pipe has a segmented design that provides flexibility that allows up to 5 percent movement to deal with the strains associated with earthquakes, landslides, and temperature changes, according to LADWP spokesman Joseph Castruita.

Any movement exceeding 5 percent activates a locking mechanism that prevents pipe joints from pulling apart.

Castruita told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the pipe has been used in Japan for over 40 years and performed well during two recent quakes in Japan.

"We actually...were educated by our Japan counterparts within the last few years of how well this pipe had performed, and with that being known, we looked at the technology and it was very similar to the pipelines that we installed today," he said.

Installation of the pipes will take place on Reseda Boulevard from Roscoe to Strathern; Etiwanda Avenue from Roscoe to Strathern; Cantara Street from Reseda to Etiwanda; and Strathern Street from Reseda to Etiwanda.

The estimated overall project cost for all five pilot project sites is approximately $10 million, with an estimated overall project cost of $5.2 million for the Northridge Hospital site alone.

While there are few questions about how effective the pipe is, Castruita said its high price tag will probably limit the number of locations where it can be used.

"The cost of this pipe right now currently, because of shipping costs from Japan since they're the only manufacturers, is about almost twice the amount that we would have for normal pipe manufacturers here in the U.S.," he said. "So we've got to be conscious and sensitive to our ratepayers on where this pipe is placed."

The installation is part of an LADWP pilot program that adheres to the Mayor's Resilience Plan and is only the second such project in the entire United States, according to officials.

LADWP's first pilot site was completed in spring 2013 on Contour Drive in Sherman Oaks, a residential area south of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley with 1,750 feet of 6-inch diameter ERDIP pipes installed, officials said.

The construction effort began in October and is expected to be completed by December 2015.

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