Defective pipes knowingly sold by company ‘not an issue’ in Grand Forks

Damaged PVC pipes in California. Photo credit: Calleguas Municipal Water District.

A sewer or water pipe probably isn’t considered a exciting news topic — until it bursts and leaves a mess in its wake.

Last week, a Grand Forks reader alerted me to a story published in the New York Times reporting that states and municipalities won a case against the country’s larger plastic pipe manufacturer.

The company, JM Eagle, was found to knowingly be selling defective pipes to these entities. When I say defective, I mean the pipe was supposed to last 50 years but apparently broke after one year.

“This pipe is buried under the streets of every major city in the country,”  Eric R. Havian, a lawyer with Phillips & Cohen who represented the states and municipalities, told the New York Times.

My reader has a water pipe near his home seems to break often and led him to wonder if the city had been bamboozled by this company and installed a faulty pipe.

If so, according to the NYT story, the city would likely qualify to participate in a second trial planned and could be privy to damages paid to affected municipalities.

I reached out to the city through its Public Information Department to see if it could track down anyone who knew if the company’s pipe was used in Grand Forks.

Engineers and water treatment plant supervisors weren’t familiar with the company and did not recall ordering pipes from it.

“Apparently this is not an issue in Grand Forks,” city spokesman Kevin Dean said.

As for the reader’s unruly pipe, water treatment plant supervisor Hazel Sletten said it is made of cast iron — not plastic — and is scheduled for replacement in 2014.

Whether or not this pipe is lurking in other North Dakota cities is something that has yet to be uncovered.