07 - Liquid (Water) Leakage after Earthquake

Water damage after an earthquake due to ruptured piping, overturned or damaged tanks, etc. has been reported after earthquakes. Such damage impacts not only equipment and machinery in industrial facilities but also high-value finishings in hotels, restaurants, etc. 

Hazards

  • Insufficient or missing gaps between the piping and wall at penetrations. This can cause shearing of the pipe and release of contents during an earthquake.
  • Improper bracing of piping. Critical piping must be braced against swaying to prevent impact against each other pipes, structural elements, etc. Bracing should be done with tensioned wired or rigid elements.
  • Poor anchorage of tanks and equipment piping. Tall equipment or liquid containers are especially susceptible to damage if not properly anchored. Piping connected to such equipment, if not provided with flexible joints and suitable bracing, are also susceptible to damage.

Controls

  • Critical piping to be braced from swaying by means of supporting frames, tensioned wires, etc. Attention is to be given to the connection of the bracing to the pipes. Refer to Federal Emergency Agency document FEMA P-414 for best practice guidance.
  • Provide an adequate gap around critical piping at penetrations of walls. Gaps are to be filled with suitable non-combustible fire stopping material that can deform under seismic loading, eg. acrylic sealants.
  • All production critical equipment, including fire-fighting pumps, water tanks, etc. to be properly anchored to the foundations. Anchor bolt configuration and foundation design are to be checked by qualified structural engineer.
  • Avoid connection of critical piping, including fire fighting water, valves and equipment to unreinforced masonry or concrete block walls. Such components are to be supported by engineered frames anchored to the concrete floor slab and load-bearing elements (columns, beams, etc.). Since these components may alter the seismic performance of the load-bearing elements a qualified structural engineer should control the adequacy of the elements.
  • Flexible connections should be provided at connection of piping to equipment, seismic joints and other critical locations.