Customers expect us to ensure a safe infrastructure and guarantee their safety while we perform our work. Fortunately, there were no major incidents in 2020. The safety of our networks for everyone involved is a high priority for us. We continuously invest in the reliability of our infrastructure based on information regarding the condition of our network.
Replacement programme for grey cast-iron and asbestos cement gas pipes
On 27 January 2019, a gas explosion took place in The Hague in the gas network of Stedin. In 2019, in consultation with partners and following an advisory assessment issued by the Dutch State Supervision of Mines, we brought forward the completion date for the remediation plan for grey cast-iron and asbestos cement pipes by eight years to 2032.
In line with the accelerated implementation of the replacement programme, we replaced 10% of the grey cast-iron and asbestos cement gas pipes in 2020. At the end of 2020, we still had around 1,169 kilometres of these grey cast-iron pipes and 200 kilometres of asbestos cement pipes in our service area, During the period up to 2032, we will periodically carry out extra inspections of the remaining pipes to ensure they are safe.
Besides replacing pipes, we also check daily for very small gas leaks using highly sensitive equipment so that we can address even the slightest gas escape at a very early stage, before this can pose a problem. As always, safety is our top priority. We remain alert to changing situations and new risks, and give high priority to the replacement of pipes wherever necessary.
Asbestos in fitters’ sealant
Fitters’ sealant was commonly used in the past to seal threaded joints in metal pipes. At the end of 2019, we discovered that asbestos had been added to the fitters’ sealant in the past, possibly as far back as 1978. The presence of this asbestos is harmless, as long as the joint is left undisturbed. However, asbestos emission measurements that we performed when working on pipe connections where asbestos-containing fitters’ sealant was used indicate that excessive amounts of asbestos can be released. To ensure the safety of our technicians, we worked with the industry in 2020 to find a safe way to work on joints sealed with asbestos-containing fitters’ sealant. The work instructions have been modified accordingly and our technicians can now work safely again on these connections.
Resolving and preventing outages
We employ a targeted approach when dealing with incidents that arise in the gas or electricity network. In addition, we do everything we can to prevent unsafe situations for employees and others in the vicinity. For example, in 2020 we worked on replacing and closing medium-voltage substations that have limited or inadequate protection. As this will take some time, additional measures aimed at promoting safe working practices in such spaces will apply until this work has been completed.